Y’s Men Pivot In Pandemic

It’s hard to imagine a more active, involved — and social — group than the Y’s Men.

So it’s hard to imagine any Westport organization impacted more by COVID than the 400-plus seniors who hike, bike, play bridge and backgammon, sing, enjoy classical music, work with computers, discuss investments, and hear interesting speakers on a local and global topics every week.

The Y’s Men will not let a global pandemic keep them down. Though their in-person meetings are limited, they’ve adjusted, adapted and pivoted.

These are indeed wise men.

Like many members, president Bob Mitchell calls the group “a very important part of my life.” A member since retiring from a career in banking and IT in 2014, he appreciates both the variety of activities and the camaraderie.

Since the coronavirus struck, he says, “we rewrite our playbook every day.”

Bob Mitchell, Y’s Men president

Thursday morning general meetings were always convivial. After Coffee An’s coffee and donuts, members enjoyed speakers. Senators, congressmen, CEOs, authors, entertainers — packed audiences heard them all.

In-person sessions were replaced by podcasts. Among the guests: 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Board of Finance chair Brian Stern, “Live at Lincoln Center” producer Andrew Wilk, Dr. Robert Altbaum, CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota, golf pro Kammy Maxfeldt, realtor Alex Chingas and “06880” blogger yours truly.

The speakers series has now transitioned to Zoom. Every week through Christmas is booked, with guests and topics ranging from the history of the White Star Line to Westport’s downtown and Department of Human Services.

Mitchell notes one upside of virtual meetings: the chance to hear from people like Basil Hero. The author of that book about lessons learned by 12 men who went to the moon, he’s a former Westporter now living in San Francisco. That makes an in-person meeting tough — but a Zoom session easy.

A Y’s Men Zoom meeting.

The Y’s Men usually take the summer off. This year, groups like the Book Club continued to meet, virtually. The biking and walking groups got together for actual bike trips and walks — socially distanced, of course. Tennis players were active too; soon, they’ll move indoors.

The Bridge Club did not meet. But they’re starting now — virtually, of course.

“We are committed to keeping our members active, involved and social as much as possible — whether face to face or not,” Mitchell says.

Y’s Men (and wives) enjoy a socially distanced get-together at Compo Beach. (Photo/Molly Alger)

COVID did more than derail many Y’s Men’s plans. It also took the lives of 3 members.

One was a hiker. Group friends walked and met in his honor this summer, at Sherwood Island.

As the Y’s Men gear up for another year — one unlike any other, but filled like all the rest with events and activities — Mitchell invites any retired or semi-retired man who lived (or once lived) in Westport or Weston to join. Click here for more information, or email president@ysmenwestportweston.org.

4 responses to “Y’s Men Pivot In Pandemic

  1. Great great great article! You are a gift to Westport. And we had a record number (for pandemic times) of Y’s Men at the beach last night for cocktails.


  2. My grandfather was a member of the Y’s men, and part of their singing group. It’s great to see the camaraderie is still there!

    – Adam Bernard

    Twitter: @AdamsWorldBlog

    My memoir, *ChemBro: Embracing Beastmode to Beat Cancer*, is out now!

  3. Great article Dan. Yes, the Y’s Men are a unique group of friends.

  4. The Y’s men and Westport is fortunate to have Bob Mitchell! Bob is also an active member of Saugatuck Church. He is helpful to all and is instrumental in supporting our services each week. Bob is a Westport treasure!