Ken Walsh, president and CEO of the Alfond Youth & Community Center, and Bree Michaud of Oakland, the Waterville Boy & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year and the Maine State Youth of the Year, stand last week outside the Alfond Youth & Community Center at 126 North St. in Waterville. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — Bree Michaud is a bright star at the Waterville Boys & Girls Club.

She began taking swimming lessons there when she was 5, a few months after her cousin had drowned.

“I had trouble getting into the water,” Michaud recalled . “A few months after I finished swimming lessons, I went into the martial arts program, and I’ve been there for 13 years and am a second-degree black belt in karate. I teach classes to children there, and I’m a counselor in the after-school program.”

Now 18 and a senior at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, Michaud is the Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year and the Maine State Youth of the Year. She plans to head next month to New York City to compete in the Northeast contest.

The club, part of the Alfond Youth & Community Center, is her second home, she said.

“It’s a safe place, basically,” she said. “I go there every day after school, and it’s just such a warm and welcoming place.”


Michaud is just one of those affiliated with the club to be highlighted Wednesday as the Boys & Girls Club celebrates its 100th anniversary during its annual appeal awards dinner at the Alfond Center at 126 North St. in Waterville.

Jim Clark, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker, and a video is to be shown with former U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell, a Waterville native who grew up at the Boys Club, narrating the club’s history. Mitchell spoke at its 90th anniversary celebration.

“One-hundred years is an incredible achievement,” Joe Reisert, chairman of the Alfond Center’s board of directors, said Friday. “And, thinking about all the good work the club has done in this community, it’s really humbling. Obviously, you make it to 100 years, and the goal is to make it to another 100 years — and we plan to do that.”

The Alfond Center includes the Boys & Girls Club and the YMCA, which were launched in 1924 and 1948, respectively.

The Boys Club opened on Temple Street and moved into a former Colby College women’s recreation building on Main Place in 1950.

The YMCA eventually moved into the Boys Club space on Temple Street, and in 1966 built a building on Pleasant Street. In 1972, the Boys Club and Girls Club merged to create the Waterville Boys & Girls Club, one of the first in the country to do so.


In 1997, that club and the YMCA merged under the same roof, and in 1999, the group moved into the new $10 million Alfond Youth & Community Center on North Street. Waterville philanthropist Harold Alfond had offered a $3 million challenge gift to the fundraising effort.

The front page of the Morning Sentinel on Oct. 19, 1999, featured the visit of Gen. Colin L. Powell and other dignitaries to the Waterville Boys & Girls Club for the grand opening of the Alfond Youth Center at 126 North St. in Waterville. Then-Gov. Angus S. King is shown over Powell’s right shoulder.

Mitchell, Gen. Colin L. Powell, then-Gov. Angus S. King and Alfond and his wife, Bibby, were on hand for the center’s opening ceremony in 1999.

Powell said of the center: “The biggest … the best … the most successful. One like you ain’t never seen before … right here in Waterville, Maine. One incredible facility!”

The center has grown exponentially over the years. When Ken Walsh became president and CEO of the Alfond Center in 1992, there were 10 staff members and the annual budget was $350,000. Now, there are more than 250 staff members and the annual budget is $8 million. Assets that were less than $1 million in 1992 are now valued at $50 million.

The center has 10,000 members and more than 150 programs serving people in 190 communities. The Waterville center opened other chartered clubs, including those in Bangor and Gardiner, and it oversees the Boys & Girls Club of Augusta and the Augusta Teen Center.

A story in the Sept. 15, 1924, edition of the Morning Sentinel announces the imminent arrival of a Boys Club on Temple Street in Waterville. Now the Waterville Boys & Girls Club, the organization is celebrating its 100th anniversary this week.

The Waterville Alfond Center includes an after-school program, family wellness program, adult and youth athletic activities, gymnasiums, a greenhouse, indoor track and swimming facilities, Purnell-Wrigley Field on Mathews Avenue, Maine’s Fenway Park at the center’s Camp Tracy on McGrath Pond in Oakland and other programs.


The center is funded by legacy gifts, grants, fundraising, program revenues and an endowment begun 20 years ago that now totals about $25 million. Walsh said 3% of the endowment is used each year for the budget, and the endowment continues to grow. The Harold Alfond Foundation this year gave the center a $300,000 fundraising match.

About 320 people from across the country who support the center are scheduled to attend Wednesday’s event, the focus of which is to raise money for scholarships for youths to attend the club’s Camp Tracy on McGrath Pond in Oakland, the camp at the Alfond Center itself, efforts to address food insecurity and swimming lessons.

Walsh said many people do not have the opportunity to witness historic events such as a 100th anniversary.

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, left, and his father, Gordy, give high-fives June 12, 2019, to children at the Alfond Youth & Community Center at 126 North St. in Waterville. Morning Sentinel file

“To me, it’s been a privilege and an honor to serve, and nonprofits are to serve the community,” Walsh said. “For 100 years, the Boys & Girls Club has served this community in so many ways, working with other entities. Quite honestly, this is our time, but the foundation that was built years ago helped us to get to where we are now.”

Michaud, the Youth of the Year, said being in the center’s programs has been “an amazing experience” and helped her become who she is today. The Oakland resident said she is set to graduate next month from Messalonskee High School. She then plans to spend two years at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland studying child development psychology, before transferring to a four-year college and earning a master’s degree.

The Alfond Youth & Community Center at 126 North St. in Waterville on Friday afternoon. Scott Monroe/Morning Sentinel

She said having been named Youth of the Year was an honor and her greatest achievement so far.

“Being able to win this was huge to me,” she said. “It’s really meaningful.”

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