New director wants to expand offerings at MRC
Rockport — On Monday, June 30, his first day as executive director of Midcoast Recreation Center (MRC), Craig Wilson said, “I'm real excited to be up here.”
That is good, because he will need to hit the ground running. Among Wilson's first tasks will be to put together a break-even budget for the fiscal year that started July 1. He comes to MRC from the Central Lincoln County YMCA in Damariscotta, which he ran for 10 years. During his time there, he opened a new branch, tripled the program offerings, increased membership by more than 20 percent and raised what he called a “significant amount” of money.
Wilson said he left the Damariscotta Y in good financial shape, with a strong staff.
He was not always in finance, though. After taking a bachelor's degree in physical education from Springfield College in Massachusetts, he became director of physical education programs for the parochial schools in Lawrence, Mass. From there, he became program director for the Lawrence YMCA, and then associate executive director for the Y in Haverhill, Mass. His next stop was in Damariscotta.
He and his wife live in Bremen with their daughter, 16, and son, 14.
By the time of MRC's most recent director search, Wilson was ready to leave the YMCA organization and was looking for a nonprofit with a good mission, a strong board of directors and a desire to grow. “MRC looked like a good fit,” he said.
A lot of people do not know that MRC, which was started as a for-profit organization, has been a nonprofit since 2010, he said. The organization does not turn anyone away because they are unable to afford its fees. Part of its mission is to provide access to athletic opportunities for anyone in the greater Rockland area who wants them, regardless of their ability to pay, Wilson said.
With an economy that is still sluggish, the center gets an increasing number of requests for scholarship help from people of all ages, he said.
In order to support that mission, MRC wants to develop an endowment and strengthen its finances, Wilson said. He recently played in a golf tournament fundraiser that raised about $6,500 to support scholarships for children at the facility.
MRC's strength is in its people, Wilson said. “We have great staff here.” In addition, it has a dedicated board of directors drawn from local businesses and nonprofits.
“I'm amazed at how much time and energy [the board] has been willing to put in to maintain this facility,” he said. He will draw on that devotion to increase MRC's strength and broaden its offerings. For example, Penobscot Bay YMCA CEO Troy Curtis is on his board; Wilson hopes to collaborate on some programs with the Y.
Unlike the Y, MRC is not a membership organization, but simply charges users for classes or time on the ice or the tennis courts.
Wilson said his top three goals for the facility are to expand the scholarship program, increase program offerings and establish MRC as the charity of choice for the greater Rockland area.
“MRC is a great challenge for [me] professionally,” he said.
Sarah E. Reynolds is copy editor for the Courier Gazette and Camden Herald.
Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, ride her ATV and play word games.