'The man I am today:' How the Old Colony YMCA's unique services help Brockton families


Article published by Christopher Butler, The Enterprise

BROCKTON — When Claudio Moniz was 4 years old, his family was moving from one Brockton homeless shelter to another when space opened in the Old Colony YMCA’s David Jon Louison Center — a shelter for homeless women, children and families located on Newbury Street.

“That had kind of taken us from not having a place at all [to] a good two years at the Louison,” he said.

While there, Moniz, now 25, spent his time at the Old Colony YMCA, participating in many of the programs offered to young children.

After living at the Louison Center for two years, and other temporary homes in the area, the Old Colony YMCA helped Moniz’s family find permanent housing.

Still, Moniz returned to the YMCA year after year, summer camp after summer camp. There, he developed an interest in drawing and playing guitar.

“A lot of kids in Brockton…tend to just stay home, play outside with friends. That’s a good thing for kids, but in Brockton it’s not always the safest. There’s not a lot of good influences as a kid in Brockton because it’s just you on the street,” Moniz said.

He aged out of the system at 13. Now, he works as a child care staff member at the same YMCA.

'A social services business that has a gym'

Moniz is just one of the roughly 4,000 people who use the Old Colony YMCA's social services yearly, according to spokesperson Michael Ricci. Moniz was one of the roughly 2,400 kids who attend its summer camps each year. Currently, Ricci said, its emergency shelters serve 63 families.

In addition to Brockton, the Old Colony YMCA has branches in Taunton, Easton, East Bridgewater, Stoughton, Middleboro and Plymouth.

The Old Colony YMCA, in addition to a typical gym, offers unique social services that most YMCAs nationwide don’t offer — from a full mental health clinic to a refrigerated van delivering food throughout the South Shore.

“The Old Colony Y[MCA] is a social service business that has a gym,” said David Offut, a member of the organization’s Board of Directors.

Aging out and growing up

When Moniz aged out of the Old Colony YMCA's programs at age 13, his three younger siblings continued to attend the camps while Moniz transitioned into high school.

"From 13 to 17 is when I kind of got into more trouble," he said. "That's when kids develop more character — preteen, teenage years is when you try to explore new things. So I got into more trouble just not being a part of the Y."

Once Moniz graduated high school, he started working for the Old Colony YMCA branch in Stoughton at a summer program called Rise Up, which helped kids continue to read and practice math outside of school to "help with the learning gap," Moniz said.

Since then, he's worked in various child care and youth programs with the Old Colony YMCA helping kids "find their spark." Like most Old Colony staff, Moniz went through the camps as a kid and can relate to the kids he works with more personally. He said he tries to be a role model.

"The interactions I had as a kid there have kind of shaped me to become the man I am today," he said. "I feel like nowadays kids are really easily influenced by a lot of things you see now with technology and social media."

50 years of social service

2022 marked the Old Colony YMCA's 50th anniversary. Since its founding, several new social services and facilities have been added to the network. Recently, a brand-new facility called Comprehensive Counseling — the Old Colony YMCA's behavioral health care center — opened.

In January, CEO Vincent Marturano announced his retirement after 30 years. Old Colony YMCA announced that Charles Clifford, CEO of the YMCA of Pawtucket since 2015, is succeeding Marturano, effective Feb. 6.

“I want to welcome Charlie. He is joining a family of dedicated, determined and hard-working professionals,” Marturano said in a statement. “Everything I see in Charlie’s background, and in his personal makeup, bodes well for the Y, for the staff and for the thousands of people that we serve.”