2017-01-13 / Front Page

Filling the void

YMCA contributors applauded for good works
Senior Staff Writer

SANFORD — Late last spring, YMCA board member John Roux was thinking about little kids in the city who don’t have the chance to go to summer camp. They’re the youngsters you see hanging out, the ones who could benefit from a week of swimming and kayaking and all the other fun aspects of a Maine summer day camp.

“I wanted to see these kids go to summer camp,” said Roux.

The Sanford Springvale YMCA has always provided scholarships — $180,000 worth of scholarships in 2016 — so those who have less can enjoy all that a YMCA can offer, including Camp Marland at Bunganut Lake Park.

But Roux was concerned that not all kids who could benefit from the day camp were taking advantage of it, so he talked about it with  friends  Dick Lolley and Art Dumas.

It didn’t take long for Dumas and his wife, Celina,  and Lolley and his wife, Bea, to come to a decision — the two couples pledged to pick up the scholarship tab for kids who wouldn’t otherwise afford summer camp — the tab included the scholarship, but also items like swimsuits and beach towels and the like for youngsters didn’t have them. In all, 87 children were identified as possible new campers.

Roux explained it was tough to get the word to parents, but in the end the scholarship applications were sent home through the schools.

“We got 53 kids to camp; kids that really needed a week at camp,” through the new program, said Roux at the YMCA’s annual meeting Wednesday. As well, he said, 13 of the 53 took advantage of a second week.

The Dumas and Lolley families were recognized for their generosity by the YMCA at the annual meeting.

Roux on Thursday said the two couples have pledged to support the special program this coming summer, too.

Others were also recognized for their contributions by the YMCA, including Muriel Poulin, retired after a lengthy career in nursing and nursing education. Poulin has long been involved with the Y’s Trafton Center and has established a $100,000 endowment for the popular senior center.

“This donation has been placed with the Maine Community Foundation and the earnings will be distributed to the Trafton Center each year to support programming,” said  senior center Director Thea Murphy. She said the fund is open to others who may want to make a donation as a memorial to a family member or as part of their planned giving.

“We are so blessed, I can’t even find the words,’ said Murphy in an email.

Poulin, who received a hearty round of applause at the annual dinner, said she was overwhelmed with the recognition.

Others were recognized as well, for their volunteer spirit.

John Lee Dumas, who owns and hosts EOFire, which stands for Entrepreneur on Fire, a daily podcast where he interviews inspiring entrepreneurs  from his home in Puerto Rico, spoke of the impact of the YMCA on his life and on the lives of his family members. Dumas, the guest speaker, said the daily podcast has an audience of 2 million listeners per month.

After an injury that sidelined Dumas’ Massabesic High School basketball career, he went to the YMCA to build up his strength.

“It was the first time since first grade I didn’t have sports to consume my after school hours,” he said of the aftermath of his injury. “I could have been on drugs or alcohol or depression” to fill the void, he said.

Instead he swam, joining the Y’s Titans swim team and the swim team at Massabesic High School.

“The YMCA filled this void for me,” said Dumas.

In May 2002, Dumas, a ROTC member, graduated from the University of Rhode Island and was deployed to Iraq. He was in charge of a squadron of 16 — four of them didn’t live to come home.

“It was the first major failure of my life,” Dumas told the audience. He said there were more to follow, including dropping out of law school. He dabbled in careers in corporate finance and real estate that ultimately, he found, were not for him.

Dumas said he started listening to entrepreneurial podcasts and got frustrated because they were once a week or once a month.

“I said 'why not step into that void,'” he told the audience.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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