Positive Employment News: Westport Y Pays During Shutdown

The order came quickly on March 12: The Westport Weston Family YMCA must shut down, effective that night.

Just as quickly, the executive committee met. They voted to continue paying all employees, for the next 2 weeks.

The Y employs 210 people: program directors, lifeguards, personal trainers, mebership services, administrators, maintenance staff and more.

Ninetey are full-time; the rest work anywhere from 2 to 3 hours a week, to 30.

Patty Kondub is one of the Westport Y’s many part-time employees. Her AquaFit classes are very popular.

The decision was important — and easy, says CEO Pat Riemersma. “We feel privileged to have this staff. They make this place what it is.”

The original 2-week shutdown was quickly extended, by Governor Lamont. The executive committee extended all employees’ pay too: through the end of April.

“If you saw someone here before we closed, they’re still being paid,” Riemersma notes.

If — as is probable — the closure continues into May, the committee will meet again.

The staff is exhilarated. One man had just bought a house. He told Riemersma he no longer fears losing it.

She thanks her board for being “so open-minded.” They recognize, as she does, that Y employees “are family. We want them to all to be here, and ready, when we reopen our doors.”

Pat Riemersma

Another Y decision involves member dues. In the first days of the pandemic, the board asked everyone to consider continuing their regular payments despite the closure. In return — because the organization is a non-profit, and members are not receiving any benefits or services — any payments after April 10 will be treated as a tax-deductible donation.

Of course, Riemersma says, “we recognize that’s a financial hardship for some people.” They have the option to put their memberships on hold. About 25% of the 10,000-plus members are doing that.

The CEO looks forward to welcoming all members — and employees — back. Meanwhile, she says, the expansion remains on schedule.

Which means perhaps even more employment, when life returns to normal.

3 responses to “Positive Employment News: Westport Y Pays During Shutdown

  1. It’s great that the expansion is proceeding apace, but, as Ms. Riemersma says, it’s the people who make the Y what it is – a wonderfully warm and welcoming place with a true sense of community. Our hope that they would continue to be paid was a major factor in our decision to pay our dues during the shutdown. We urge the executive committee to continue this practice for the duration!

  2. Dana McCreesh

    In a letter posted on the Y site, Pat Riermersma says, “When you belong to the Y, you belong to a community. We support each other, motivate each other, and recently, even protect each other. A community remains strong, even when not physically together. And the Y remains fully dedicated to supporting our members, our staff, and all those who rely on us. ”

    It’s nice to see good things during these challenging times.

  3. Catherine Walker

    Dan, great profile. I also hope that members and nonmembers take advantage of the Y’s online resources at westporty.org – there are classes and wellness tips for every age group.