OSWEGO – Before a sell-out crowd in the lower level of the Oswego YMCA (home to the Oswego Boxing Club), Mayor Billy Barlow announced that the Oswego YMCA’s Boxing Club and the Oswego YMCA will receive $75,000 in grant funds from the city.
The funds will be used to expand, renovate and assist with the YMCA’s expansion project, the mayor said Thursday evening.
More than 150 people, of all ages, crowded around the ring and out into the hall to hear the mayor’s announcement.
The boxing club will receive approximately $30,000 for renovations and improvements to the existing boxing ring, facility and lighting.
Currently, all the work at the boxing club is done by volunteers; no one is getting paid.
Therefore, part of the $30,000 will be used to hire a program administrator to do outreach and spend more time at the ring so more kids can take part in the program, the mayor said.
The remaining $45,000 will go towards the on-going pool connector project, connecting the current YMCA building to the pool area of the former site next door.
It will help increase membership and activities at the YMCA, the mayor said.
The YMCA Expansion Project will create five full-time equivalent positions.
“The Oswego YMCA Boxing Club and the Oswego YMCA are both important and unique assets to the Oswego community and it is critically important to help these organizations as they serve and enhance our community,” Barlow said.
The mayor called the boxing club a “remarkable story” that offers youth an opportunity to participate in a different after-school activity that not every community has.
“The Oswego YMCA Boxing Club teaches our children valuable life lessons and encourages physical activity,” he said. “The club is very much a success story in the city of Oswego and we need to do our part to help promote the club and expand its ability to outreach.”
Mayor Barlow also discussed the importance of the YMCA in downtown and believes the completion of the pool project will only add to the progress and improvements.
“The Oswego YMCA is also an extremely important asset to our community and under (director) Kerrie Webb’s leadership continues to improve. This funding will help expedite the pool connector project allowing the YMCA to have a pool once again and as a result, provide members with more opportunities and potentially boost membership in the future. I commend all the good work being done by Kerrie Webb and her team and hope this funding helps move this massive project along,” Barlow said.
The YMCA has made so much progress over the last few years and Webb deserves a ton of credit, he added.
The mayor has been “the driving force” behind the positive change, the YMCA’s director said.
“We are grateful to Mayor Barlow and the city of Oswego for this investment in our organization. We appreciate their support of the Oswego YMCA and in recognizing the positive presence we have in our community,” Webb said. “We commend Mayor Barlow along with his outstanding team in the Community Development office for all their efforts and the great advancements in our city.”
Derrick Falcetti of the Oswego YMCA Boxing Club said, “I would like to thank Mayor Barlow for his vision that he is bringing to life here in our city. As a lifelong resident of Oswego, I am very proud to be a part of the positive movement in Oswego. As kids, Derek (Breitbeck) and I dreamed that one day, we would be world champions in boxing. It didn’t take long for us to realize that our real dream was to facilitate a boxing and education program that instills great qualities and invests in the youth of our city. We are proud to be a part of the YMCA and look forward to serving our community.”
Falcetti and Breitbeck are heroes, according to the mayor.
A friend invited the mayor to participate in a couple of the club’s training sessions.
After the sessions, “I had muscles that hurt that I didn’t even realize I had,” the mayor quipped. “Needless to say, that was the last of my boxing training program.”
The YMCA and the boxing club will give children something to do after school, which will help alleviate poverty in the Port City, the mayor noted.
“Keeping children engaged after school will help keep them from getting bored. When they get bored they tend to get into trouble sometimes,” he said. “So, we want to keep our children engaged and the YMCA does a phenomenal job at that. It’s not a place we should take for granted. Not every community, especially in Upstate New York, has YMCA as active and as nice as our YMCA is.”
The grant funding comes from the commitment of program income through the NYS Community Development Block Grant program administered and managed by the city’s Office of Economic Development.
“When you have people like Derrick and Derek and Kerrie doing all the great work that they do, my job as mayor and the job of city government is to help them in any way we can,” Barlow told Oswego County Today. “The decision to fund these two projects was quite an easy decision. I am fortunate to be mayor of the city of Oswego at a time where everybody is working together.”
The club has about 35 to 45 members, Falcetti said.
There is a waiting list, but they hope to soon make the program available to more children.
“We appreciate the support of the city and the may,” he told Oswego County Today. “This is our home, we love and hope keep moving forward.”