DULUTH AREA FAMILY YMCA
TABLE OF CONTENTS
DOWNTOWN DULUTH Y
YMCA AT THE ESSENTIA WELLNESS CENTER
COOK COUNTY COMMUNITY YMCA
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT
YMCA OF THE USA
BRANCH UPDATES - January 2021
We have expanded our youth programming in 2021 at the Gary New Duluth (GND) Rec Center from once a week to twice a week creating “Forest Fridays” and “Wilderness Wednesdays” for our neighborhood youth. Continuing what was starting in late 2020, the program explores nature topics like animal tracks and trees, and outdoor skills like fire-making and fort building, along with winter science projects.
Fridays will add to these nature explorations while focusing on socialization and treks into the Stowe woods to learn from the natural wonders that are found there. To go on our adventures, we were so excited that finally, in January, we had enough snow to go snow-shoeing! With Covid-19 restrictions, we have had to cap attendance at 24 participants per session, and in order to make another “indoor” classroom we’ve been using an ice fishing house with a heater in addition to the GND Rec Center space. Our neighborhood kids love going into the tent for crafts and this unique learning space is a new experience for them and us.
As the Duluth Public Schools and Duluth Edison Charter Schools transition back to in-person learning, our out-of-school programs are in the process of transitioning as well from emergency child care to our regular out-of-school time programming that includes both before and afterschool programs for youth across Duluth Schools.
Duluth Area Family YMCA
At the Harbor Highlands Community Center Little Y program, we have been focusing on more educational opportunities and support for distance learning. To limit the number of participants in our spaces, we have split our youth programming between grade groups K-4 and 5-12 with the program taking place Monday-Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Meet Kory, our Harbor Highlands Little Y Lead Staff.
Kory comes to us from the Boys and Girls Club of Grand Rapids and is excited to share his artistic abilities with the youth who come to our center each day.
In the fall semester, we partnered with College of St. Scholastica Nursing Program to offer a community clinical where CSS Nursing students were onsite for two semesters and developed a project based around the greatest needs in the Harbor Highlands community. The CSS students assessed the homework and educational resources of Harbor Highlands and made a plan on how to best support neighborhood youth. This included having more 1:1 meetings focused on academic successes and struggles with Harbor Highland youth. They also created a more defined homework space within the center and brought in resources, such as ISD 709 staff and other college partners, to support students in their distance learning. This partnership not only supported the distance learning needs of the youth at our center but also provided valuable clinical time for the college students.
Below is a basic introduction to their project:
The Youth in Government (YIG) State Conference took place virtually from January 7th to the 10th and it was impressive! The organizers of the event did a wonderful job and made the experience like no other for all the students across the state who participated. From Duluth, there were a total of 17 YIG students. The students enjoyed the event and participated fully despite it being virtual this year.
The True North AmeriCorps program year runs from August to July and the 2020-2021 program year is off to a strong start! Since August 15th, over 150 individuals have applied with 29 members placed at 21 sites including non-profit youth serving agencies, community centers, supportive housing centers, and elementary schools. Members have served 10,036 hours so far supporting positive youth development, food access, and COVID safety.
True North AmeriCorps members have helped distribute 41,936 meals to kids, families, and seniors facing food insecurity. 369 children were identified for additional support with 5,391 interventions tracked. These interventions include academic enrichment, positive adult support, and social emotional learning opportunities. With the rise of COVID-19 cases this fall, many members transitioned to supporting emergency essential worker childcare (with nearly 2,000 positive interactions tracked). Most members have helped with distance learning, including putting together and distributing 283 take-home enrichment activities for those unable to do in-person programming. Thank you to all the individuals who have served and supported these efforts so far, we look forward to the great work to come in 2021!
“I am so proud of my child for going out of her comfort zone this year and giving YIG a try. She ended up loving it!” -Parent of Student
Our Student Leaders were:
Delegation President: Lily St. George, East Senior.
Vice President: Sydney David, East Senior.
Secretary: Grace Rubin, East Junior. We are happy to announce that Grace has been elected as next year’s Duluth Delegation President.
Rayshan Pannell, Harbor City International School Senior. (Pictured) Rayshan has been part of YIG for the past 4 years. In his first year, he participated in Legislature, in his second he took on Trial Courts, and he moved on to Supreme Courts in his third year. This year he tried his hand at District Courts along with being elected as Trial/District Court Specialist of the Duluth Delegation.
Congratulations to all our student leaders!
We are so happy to announce that we have received a grant from the Ordean Foundation to support our C.A.T.C.H. (Coordinated Approach to Childhood Health) initiative,which helps introduce youth to healthy foods and teaches them about nutrition and physical activity. For kids, healthy foods like cabbage, spinach, or kiwi might be new, and with C.A.T.C.H. we bring these foods into the classroom in fun and interactive ways, like food art. Our Downtown Duluth Y and Community Services branches have teamed up to provide this initiative across Duluth at six different afterschool sites from January to May 2021. During a weekly C.A.T.C.H. session, students will share a snack while receiving an engaging a nutrition lesson as they learn about healthy sodium and sugar intake and the benefits of drinking water and increasing physical activity. Learn more about this exciting initiative in the following Downtown Branch Update.
December was our largest meal distribution month to date! In December, we were able to increase the number of meals we were giving out from 200 kits a week to 300 and include fresh fruit, vegetables, and a meat voucher for the holiday meals. Many Y employees and community members helped us pick up the food, prepare the kits, and distribute them to the community. In total, our community received 11,680 meals through our MN Department of Education funded meal kits and 1,024 weekend meals through the federal food program and generous donors for a total of 12,704 meals received by our community in the month of December. From April to the end of December, 8,182 meals have been served at Harbor Highlands, 21,892 at GND, 4,040 from the Downtown Y, and 13, 226 meals for the YMCA at the Essentia Wellness Center community. In 2020, a total of 47,340 meals were served across Duluth and Hermantown.
Day Camp Kitchigami registration opens February 1, 2021 at duluthymca.org/programs/camp/day-camps/kitchigami
Summer KEY Zone registration opens, March 1, 2021 at duluthcommunityed.org
A new year has brought with it the resumption of our C.A.T.C.H. Kid’s Club afterschool program which brings nutrition and physical activity education into our K.E.Y. Zone, Eagle’s Nest, and Harbor Highland’s sites. Brendon Lowney, our Director of Healthy Living, is overseeing this program with his enthusiastic and energetic personality that engages students and program staff alike. Each week our C.A.T.C.H. instructors visit six Title 1 out-of-school time sites to instill positive behavioral change geared towards making healthier lifestyle choices. On day one Brendon already had the kids doing jumping jacks, learning about how their heart works as a muscle, and taste-testing almond butter! Over the next four months, students will focus on lessons that expose them to healthy foods, movement through play, and help them better understand that what we put in our bodies impacts how we feel on a daily basis. This program, which has been in a holding pattern due to COVID-19 restrictions and funding since March of 2020, is currently funded by an Ordean Foundation Catalyst Grant and Annual Support Campaign donations.
As Youth Sports restrictions eased up in January, we were able to resume our recreational gymnastics program which runs out of the Y at the Woodland Community Center. We have over 90 gymnasts in our rec program this session with an additional 26 on our Aerials gymnastics team. The sparkle in the kids' eyes their first night back in the gym was evident as they patiently went through their health screening before jumping back onto the equipment and flipping into fun with their coaches!
CATCH Jumping Jacks with Brendon
Member spotlight: Prior to having a young adult membership here at the Y, Howard came in to shoot hoops with his sibling every once in a while, on a guest pass. After receiving a scholarship from the Y this January, he connected with Brendon, our Director of Healthy Living, about his wellness goals. Brendon has offered his expertise on exercises to build muscle as well as how to work through unforeseen injuries. Howard is now one of our "regulars’", another friendly and familiar face here at the Downtown branch who is committed to his new healthy lifestyle!
On January 25th, in collaboration with the Duluth Vet Center, we proudly resumed offering our Strong Compass program at the Downtown Duluth branch.
Ten veterans are currently going through the eight-week program which consists of an hour and a half of programming three times per week. The first 45 minutes of the program are focused on exercise and movement, primarily on our TRX Suspension Training system with certified TRX trainers Brendon Lowney and Janelle Gomez.
The subsequent 45 minutes consist of “Dusty’s Deep Thoughts” with Dustin Oosten, a readjustment counselor from the Duluth Vet Center who created the Strong Compass program.
Strong Compass is an 8-Week whole-health program where veterans come for comradery and work out three times a week. It's about improving fitness, nutrition, and a better quality of life. Call the Duluth Vet Center to learn more: 218-722-8654
"Bringing veterans together to exercise as a group is what Dustin Oosten calls ‘social medicine.’ ‘The signature trait of the readjustment issues, or even PTSD, is avoidance,’ said Oosten, a U.S. Army veteran who now works as a readjustment counselor at the Duluth Vet Center. ‘It's easy for a veteran to isolate and to avoid. I get them into a group with other veterans three times a week, and just the 'social medicine' alone helps the veterans connect and develop a support system within the community, because after they leave active duty, they lose their support system." Duluth News Tribune article written by: Lisa L. Kaczke, Oct 19th, 2017.
During the past shut down I became somewhat depressed and didn’t understand why. I realized that I missed swimming at the Y and getting to see the lifeguards downtown. Being wheelchair bound most of the day, it feels so good to be back in the pool, physically active and moving my body.” Paraphrased from a conversation with a Downtown Y member.
Two energy audits will soon be completed with Minnesota Power for both the sub-basement of the Downtown Duluth branch, which has original wiring from the 1960’s, and the entirety of the Y at the Woodland Community Center. The goal of these audits is to determine how to reduce utility costs and maximize the potential for energy-efficiency rebates as we work towards doing our part to be a sustainable organization here in Duluth.
The Downtown Y has improved access and safety in our pool area by flipping the doors to swing outward, away from the pool towards our family and adaptive locker rooms. This change will ensure that the pool doors can remain closed during operating hours, thereby reducing the risk of a child inadvertently exiting the family locker rooms into the pool unaccompanied by an adult. Additionally, an electronic door opener has been installed on the middle family and adaptive locker room hallway entrance to the pool, ensuring easy access for all members and guests.
While the Downtown Branch is currently at about 20% of our January 2020 year-to-date check-ins, we are so thankful to start seeing new and familiar faces returning to the Y. Each week we are seeing our daily check-in numbers increasing which brings with it renewed hope and excitement for a brighter 2021.
There's still time to sign up for the Lazy Iron Man Triathlon running from
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The virtual adapted yoga classes provided by Courage Kenny have been very beneficial to me, especially during this time of the pandemic.The yoga classes have provided a chance to connect with others, decrease stress and an offers an opportunity for “self-care” that is greatly needed during this time.I look forward to each virtual class and I hope that they will continue...even after the pandemic crisis has passed.Thank you to all the yoga instructions and the staff of Courage Kenny for setting up each zoom class. -Susan
The Downtown Branch has acquired new audio-visual equipment for live streaming group fitness classes thanks to funds from our True North Adaptive Yoga grant funded by the Miller-Dwan Foundation. This equipment will allow the Courage Kenny Adaptive Yoga program to run virtual and hybrid classes for their participants and increases accessibility for those unable to return to in-person programming at this time. Additionally, when not in use by Adaptive Yoga, the Downtown Duluth Branch will be using this equipment to expand the reach of our group fitness classes to those who prefer to attend virtually.
Applause, applause for Virtual Adaptive Yoga! For the past several months I've participated in the weekly Virtual Adaptive Yoga classes offered by CKRI Northland and I rarely miss a week. I've been experiencing chronic back pain for the past several years and began taking in-person Adaptive Yoga a couple of years ago and experienced some relief from back pain. When Covid-19 made in-person classes unsafe, I was really happy when the virtual classes began. In several ways, the virtual option is better than the in-person version because people don't need to travel to and from the class locations (which becomes even more difficult during the winter) and also the virtual classes are offered more often. The instructors for the virtual classes (as they also were during in-person sessions) are excellent! They are patient, they offer options for various poses for participants that may have different limitations and they always have a great attitude. Inviting Virtual Adaptive Yoga into my home once a week improves both my physical and mental wellbeing. A HUGE Thank You to the sponsors that have helped to make these classes happen! -Steve
Summer 2021 will be a second pandemic summer for Camp Miller. For camps across the country, all resident camps will operate somewhat differently in 2021, and many camps will operate significantly differently or will not operate at all. Over the past 10 months, our YMCA has illustrated tremendous skill and capacity to innovate to meet the changing needs of our community. We are reminded daily that what has worked in the past is not necessarily what will work best today.
At camp we are embracing the same spirit of innovation that all of our Association branches have during the pandemic.
Our 2021 plan for Camp Miller will address each of these facets and build on the success of Camp Miller’s 2020 summer model. Blended with elements of beloved tradition, camp is moving forward to ensure that our mission is always put first: to serve youth, to expose youth to the natural world, and to create access to camping for those who have traditionally experienced barriers to camping, including youth living in poverty and BIPOC youth.
Elements of our 2021 model:
Two weeks of resident camp (August 1st–6th; 8th-13th)
Summer Family cabin rentals
Family camp (July 1st -4th)
Summer day camp with a new Kinder Camp/Nature Based preschool pilot
Prioritizing access to camp for youth of color, youth in poverty, and those who have traditionally faced barriers to full access by working with local non-profits such as Life House and Safe Haven.
Gardening education/food access
Camp Miller was selected by the YMCA of the USA Strategic Initiatives Fund to receive the 2021 Overnight Camp Inclusion Grant. This award of $8,000 is to help Y overnight camps strengthen their policies, practices, and programs to effectively include and support under-served youth, particularly LGBTQ+ youth, newcomer and immigrant youth, and youth with diverse abilities, faith traditions, and socioeconomic and/or racial backgrounds.
Over the next month, Emily Marshall and Sara Cole will be attending orientation sessions and training with other Ys across the country that were selected for this award.
We joined the Y to spend time as a family using the pool. We have been so disappointed, but understanding, while this space has been closed down. My kids were so excited when I saw on Facebook that you would be allowing reservations for the play structure. It provides us with a little bit of normalcy during these crazy times. Thanks for getting it reopened!
The dumping bucket, the slide, and the water sprayers had not been used in almost 10 months.That all changed as we were able to safely reopen the play structure in our aquatics center this January. Families were so excited to be able to enjoy some time together using this fun space again.The crowd sizes have been reduced due to COVID restrictions, but the level of fun has not decreased!
Northland Volleyball is calling the YMCA at the Essentia Wellness Center home again this winter. Practice started for over 40 kids on January 17th and the familiar sounds of youth laughing and having fun has returned to our gym.
Northland Coach Madelyn Wolff said, “I am so happy that we are able to use the gym again. We didn’t think that we were going to be able to have a season, more less a space to practice. Thank you for again opening up the gym for our teams to learn how to play.”
Mary our instructor does a great job of having a set plan for us each week. She provides guidance on how to use all of the different equipment and helps me feel more comfortable doing things that I haven’t done before. The group helps keep me accountable each week and is a LOT of fun! -Julie
This class is just what I needed! No really, it is just what I needed. Mary does a great job of putting together a great plan each week. She also sends us other information to keep us going throughout the week. I needed something that would keep me on track and this program is doing just that. -Erin
We started offering group exercise classes and small group training on January 4th. The classes have all been full and everyone said that they were thankful that we were offering them virtually but they needed the motivation of being back in the studio.
We also were really excited to beginning offering the Women on Weights program again. Women on Weights is a progressive program that follows a six-week plan designed for women who want to become comfortable with weight lifting.
We are proud to have started a partnership with the American Red Cross and the Superior Douglas County YMCA to host blood drives in the region. On January 14th, we hosted our first blood drive at the YMCA at the Essentia Wellness Center. The Red Cross was able to collect 34 units and welcome four first-time donors which will save 102 lives! Everyone was excited with the results for the first drive at the Essentia Wellness Center. We will continue to host one drive per month throughout 2021.
Next American Red Cross Blood Drive: February 17th, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thank you for partnering with the American Red Cross. Your support serves as a vital link between willing blood donors and the patients whose lives they help save.Your hard work and dedication are critical to providing a stable and sufficient blood supply for the community. -Corey Boe, American Red Cross.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield has been a great partner in helping the Y meet the needs of the community. The BC/BS grant to provide a MN Sure navigator allowed us to assist over 170 people with their insurance needs in 2020. We found out in January that they were awarded an additional $2,000 to use towards COVID-related expenses. These additional dollars will be allocated toward the food access program at the YMCA at the Essentia Wellness Center. We have also been allowed to reallocate some of our MN Sure Navigator’s time toward food access in 2021. We are lucky to work with a partner who understands the changing needs of the people that we serve!
MNsure Navigator: Michelle Babcock
In Cook County in 2014, childcare shortages were brought to the attention of the Early Childhood Coalition. A survey was conducted which further proved the extent of the issue. With the approval of the coalition and the help of the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation, the Cook County Community YMCA opened a new childcare program in 2015 which instantly filled with a waiting list. At that time, the program served ten kids with one full-time and four part-time staff members.
Now in 2021, our Cook County Child Care Center provides care for 40 kids with four full-time and 4 part-time staff members. An adequate supply of childcare choices increases the quality of life for families with young children and is vital to creating a family-friendly community which encourages families to live, grow, and thrive in our area. Accessible, quality child care allows parents to become economically self-sufficient, make advancements in career or education, and balance work and family needs. We are proud to continue to serve our community, especially during these difficult times.
In 2016, along with input from community leaders across all sectors, our branch strategic plan identified striving to meet the demands of early childhood as a top priority. To meet this need, we opened a second program which specialized in infant and toddler care, which allowed us to serve more young children, but the waiting lists remained long. Childcare continued to be the primary focus of our branch’s strategic plan which guided us to provide emergency assistance and support at the Cooperation Station in 2017 until they could re-open their doors. We also partnered with the school district to open a third program to serve more preschool children. With hard work and dedication, we became a state-licensed and parent-aware rated center in 2018. Our center was remodeled into three separate rooms designed to support kids in all stages of their early development.
COOK COUNTY COMMUNITY Y
Early Childhood Development is a major focus of the YMCA. We are dedicated to providing care and support to our youngest members and support their families through early childcare programs that create a strong foundation for these precious little ones.
All active staff members at the Cook County branch of the YMCA have had the opportunity to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in January. Second doses of the vaccine will be administered in mid-February. The team is thankful to Cook County and Sawtooth Mountain Clinic for providing this opportunity to protect our employees and further protect the adults, seniors, children, and families we serve every day.
Hannah Hoaglund was recently named the advisory council chair for the Cook County branch. Hannah is the owner/graphic designer at Hoaglund Designs and was formerly the Marketing Coordinator at Cascade Vacation Rentals. She lives in Lutsen with her husband and two children ages 2 and 6. Hannah joined our council several years ago when her children were enrolled in our child care center and enjoyed swimming lessons at the Y. Hannah has contributed greatly to the Y’s marketing plans, especially when determining strategies to be more inclusive of people living in the West End and other parts of Cook County.
Our newest Winter 2021 Bingo Card, as seen in the photo, has been a hit with staff. We are seeing larger-than-normal participation in our contests. In the past, we would get 3-5 staff participating in these events. More recently we have seen participation between 30-40 staff.
HR continues to publish a weekly to bi-weekly email to all staff with resources in our community—food access, healthcare, housing, cash assistance. As folks continue to struggle with basic needs, such as food access and mental health care, we feel it is important to make our staff aware of the resources so they can help themselves, along with their friends, families, and community get access to the help they need. One area that we will be focusing on this winter and spring is providing Mental Health First-Aid training. Last year, our leadership went through the training and our goal is to offer it to all staff within our Association.
900 youth participated in Y led youth sports programs.
1,193 youth gained confidence around water and improved their swimming skills through Y swim lessons.
900 youth in our region had high quality care and enrichment through the Y Summer Day Camp and Fun Days which provide care to youth when school is out.
1,320 Youth received before and afterschool enrichment through Y programs across Duluth and Cook County.
105 infants and toddlers and 69 preschoolers were served through our Early Childhood Development Center at the YEWC and our Cook County Childcare Center.
More than 1,374 children received free care within Kids Club, our onsite, short term drop-in service, that is a free member benefit at our wellness center sites so parents can focus on their health and wellness while secure in the knowledge that their children are well cared for. Covid-19 restrictions have limited our ability to offer this service, but we understand the significance this benefit plays in our members' lives and are eager for the day that this service can safely reopen.
In 2020, 260 people volunteered with the Y for more than 5,579 hours of combined service.These dedicated volunteers served in our programs, and in our branches as well as on boards, councils, and committees. We are grateful to have such dedicated volunteers and recognize their impact on our community through their service.
Our community’s generosity extends beyond their service into their gifts to preserve the Y and serve those in need in our region. In 2020, 4,635 individuals and 63 Organizations pledged their support to the Y. Over 55% of those were Y members who sustained our Y by keeping our memberships active during the state-mandated closures. 969 individuals and 57 Organizations made commitments directly to our 2020 Community Support Campaign and 48% of those gift were also made by active Y members.
The new year brings the chance to reflect on the past year through the Y of the USA Annual Reporting. As we submit our numbers it is clear that our service to the community, though changed by the pandemic, never ended. Here are a few highlights of the data we are submitting to our national body.
YMCA OF THE USA UPDATE
Unlearning Systemic Racism Virtual Town Hall
Hosted by the Y’s African American CEOs
11 a.m. - 2 p.m. CST
Wednesday, Feb. 24
Or by typing: https://www.ymca.net/news-releases/open-letter-from-ymca-of-the-usa-to-president-biden-and-vice-president-harris?fbclid=IwAR02v_Bj7NS5cUHd1gq3l_71im5oujb8FbS6vbRTZT3L150gSoiorh6NkcQ
YMCA of the USA Board Chair Pamela Davies and President and CEO Kevin Washington penned an open letter to President Biden and Vice President Harris asking them to prioritize legislation that will help YMCAs continue to provide vital services to our communities.
Read their full letter using this active link: https://www.ymca.net/.../open-letter-from-ymca-of-the-usa...
Please mark your calendars and make plans to join a virtual town hall meeting hosted by the Y’s African American CEOs to continue our discussion on the critical topic of unlearning systemic racism. We’ll build on the meaningful conversations we had during our first town hall last July when a long list of esteemed and passionate speakers helped us explore the devastating impact of racism in our communities. When we gather again from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (CST) Feb. 24 , we’ll dive deeper into a conversation about health equity, hear young changemaker perspectives on the topic of systemic racism, and much more.
All Y staff and volunteers are invited to participate, and the event is also open to the public. A speakers list and agenda will be available in the coming weeks, but early registration is available now.
We believe unlearning systemic racism is key to the success of all of our YMCAs, and there is no organization better positioned to address it in our communities and our country than the Y.