AYCC launches new Wellness Center

The Alfond Youth and Community Center (AYCC) opened its new Wellness Center, which was funded by a $6 million donation from Peter Alfond. The 10,000 square-foot addition was made with the goal of expanding the AYCC’s reach from just children to all ages.

Sawyer Boulette grew up in Waterville and, after an eight-year hiatus in Bath, is back in the city to serve as the inaugural Wellness Director. She spoke to the Echo about the Center’s new programs.

Boulette believes that donors chose to build the new additions at the AYCC because of its unique combination of three nonprofits: it houses a Boys and Girls Club, a YMCA, and the Alfond Foundation.

The AYCC, located on Waterville’s North St., serves members of 191 Maine communities, some of whom live as far away as Belfast. According to Boulette, the Wellness addition has attracted these people from all over Maine to see the renovations.

The donation came with a new name for the former Alfond Youth Center. It is now named the Alfond Youth and Community Center, reflecting the Wellness Center’s focus on Mainers of all ages. Boulette shared the unofficial slogan of the Center: “we’re for everybody.”

The AYCC now has over 1,000 members, a 200 member increase since Nov. 2019, and by June the AYCC hopes to have upwards of 1,200 total members.

Annual memberships for an adult are $520 annually or $45 for a month. Members can also get family memberships which range from $580-$760 annually or $50-$65 per month or depending on the number of adults and children.

Youth, teen, student, and senior memberships are also offered.

For those who cannot afford memberships, the AYCC gives financial aid or completely slashes the membership fee. It has a sliding income scale and will accommodate anyone. “We don’t want to turn anyone away,” Boulette said.

The AYCC provides regular programming for children and families. The Gronk Zone is one its most popular areas, especially for children, who Boulette said love its equipment and open space for group fitness. 

The Wellness Center has put a focus on making fitness classes fun and exciting for all of its clients. They offer themed classes, such as an ‘80s focused-one, and have installed an LED light system that pulse to the rhythm of music. 

For parents who want to work out, Boulette said that one of the perks of the AYCC over another, more traditional gym is that “we offer free child watch, so while parents work out, we have a child watch area upstairs where they can bring their kids.” 

Aside from its own programming, the AYCC hosts Maine General Hospital’s health classes. The Hospital leases space above the indoor track where they teach about general health issues, like diabetes.

In order to open and run the new Wellness Center, Boulette manages a staff of twelve. This has included a few interns with the athletic department and Wellness Center, some of whom now work at the AYCC full time.

According to Boulette, the construction of the new Wellness Center was a success. The process took longer than expected, as it was originally expected to be completed last June. The first new spaces were opened in November.

Roulette said that everyone in the organization is happy with the architectural firm’s work and the Center’s final outcome. All of the furniture comes from a Maine business.

A few parts of the Wellness Center are still works in progress. They are still working on a lounge above the lobby that should open at the end of this week. Boulette hopes seniors will come there to read and have a coffee.

A new teaching kitchen is set to open on March 26. The kitchen will have a chef who teaches members how to make healthy food, such as smoothies.

The AYCC is working on a series of upcoming projects. It will host the Little League World Series this summer, which they hope to televise it. Boulette also disclosed that the AYCC has another big project in the works, but its specifics remain a surprise. She will let the Echo know when the project becomes public. 

The Wellness Center’s official ribbon cutting ceremony will take place on March 26. As Boulette shared, “we’re more than just a gym.”