Table of Contents
* This update reflects what our branches were doing during the state-mandated closure and as we reopened in Mid-December. Some information may have changed as the pandemic continues to develop.
DOWNTOWN DULUTH Y
YMCA AT THE ESSENTIA WELLNESS CENTER
YMCA COMMUNITY SERVICES
COOK COUNTY COMMUNITY YMCA
YMCA CAMP MILLER
DULUTH AREA FAMILY YMCA
BRANCH UPDATES DECEMBER 2020
“This is so awesome! Thanks for your creativity to help kids be active during this time!!!”
–Sheryl (rec gymnastics parent)
The November surge in COVID-19 cases temporarily paused all our in-person youth sports programming. A few of our programs, including taekwondo, recreational gymnastics, and the Aerials gymnastics team, were able to continue virtually thanks to the dedication and mission-focused work of Coach Emily, Coach Kalysta, and Master Helberg. With the creative use of pillows for landing cushions, tape on the floor for balance beams, and walls as “spotters”, over fifty gymnasts continued to move, stretch, and learn new skills via Zoom throughout December.
With the reopening of fitness centers, our Aerials gymnastics team was able to get back on the equipment in an “open gym” setting with 12’ of social distancing and mask mandates in place. These dedicated athletes were thrilled to feel the beam under their feet, the bars in their hands, and the tumble track bouncing them into the air as they flipped back into the sport they love. The Aerials are slated to compete in both a February and March meet this season, both at the Grand Rapids Gymnastics Academy.
Registration has opened for our upcoming Winter I session of recreational gymnastics, taekwondo, and fencing.
Duluth Area Family YMCA
Thank you so much for offering the rental of fitness equipment during the closure! Brandon was super helpful and extremely kind and professional during the whole process. He is definitely a great addition to the downtown Y!
Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication to us members!
I have SO APPRECIATED being able to rent equipment during the shutdown. -Margaret
When we learned of the 4-week pause on fitness facilities, per Executive Order 20-103, our Health and Wellness team sprang into action, determined to continue helping our members push towards their goals while our doors were closed. For many, exercise equipment was the limiting factor preventing them from exercising at home. Furthermore, home exercise equipment has been in high demand and therefore hard to come by during the pandemic. It turns out, the Downtown Duluth branch had some to share! During the closure we lent out 3,424 pounds of weights, aerobic steps, spin bikes, rowers, TRX straps, and BOSU balls to over 58 very appreciative Y members!
I just want to thank you for all of your work in setting up these virtual classes. They are awesome, and really fun to do from my garage. :-) I do see you (Kelli T.) in the mirror each time, which is fun. :-) Thank you again. This is amazing to have the equipment and classes at home. –Suzanne
Throughout the month of December, the Duluth Area Family YMCA live-streamed over 21 virtual group exercise classes each, taught by local instructors.
I really enjoy Brendon’s strength and conditioning class. I like the fact that Brendon keeps participants in a small space to accommodate those who may not have a lot of space at home in which to workout. -Virtual Participant
In-person group exercise classes will resume early January in our third-floor exercise studio and west gymnasium, with face covering requirements in place and all participants spaced a minimum of 12’ apart.
I was participating in your class today. Good volume. Clear instructions verbally and visually. Ciao, Madi thanks!
The Downtown crew got in their weightlifting mid-December when we rearranged all of our cardio and weight equipment to ensure 12’ of space between all exercise stations throughout the building in accordance to Executive Order 20-103. Thankfully we have been able to spread out equipment into our east gymnasium and 3rd floor group exercise studio to keep the majority of our machines open and accessible for members upon our December 19th reopening.
I have participated in the zoom senior classes and have found them very beneficial. -Mary Z.
This most recent building closure allowed our maintenance team to complete some much-needed painting jobs throughout the building including touch-ups and a full repaint of the racquetball courts. One of the biggest jobs included a face lift to the therapy pool space, as well as brightening and updating the wall colors to welcome our members back into the water!
In early December our association sold over 400 Rustic Inn holiday pies as a fundraiser for our Out-of-School-Time, Youth-in-Government, Northerns Swim Team, and Aerials Gymnastics Team programs. The $1,900 in proceeds will directly towards helping youth participate more fully in these programs as we transition into 2021.
Most Popular PIe Purchased?
The NORTHSHORE BERRY CRUMBLE! Yum.
Although our fitness facility was closed, our family meal-kit distribution continued each week. Our Thanksgiving meal, which included a 3# turkey breast with all the fixings, were all claimed within 30 minutes. This reemphasized for us that, despite all the food access resources within city limits, many local families are still struggling to put meals on the table, especially through the holiday season.
For a full list of food resources please visit Ecolibrium-3's COVID-19 Food Resources site https://www.ecolibrium3.org/covid-19-food-resources/
Heidi Rudstrom has done a great job of helping seniors navigate through these challenging times while reducing as much risk as possible.
We are excited to start offering in-person classes again and happy to be able to continue providing virtual options for everyone that is not comfortable in returning to the Y.
“I am learning right along with our members. I never thought that I would be offering virtual classes just a year ago. It is great to see so many of my normal participants joining me on-line!”
You don’t realize how big these buildings are until they are empty for a few months during the year. Families were appreciative and we were excited to still be able to hold Fun Days at the Y, during the school break, despite the closure. It provided us with a welcome opportunity for us to hear the sounds of kids playing together again and filled the halls with laughter! With Alex, Trent, and Tony leading the charges, we affectionately named it Daddy Day Care at the Y. The days were fully loaded to keep the kids busy with Arts and Crafts, gym time, nature exploration, and an educational hour (it might have been a little less, it was the Holiday break).
We were lucky to receive a grant from the Arrowhead Agency on Aging to increase services for seniors during the pandemic. This has allowed us to continue making well-being calls during the shutdown, increase virtual options, and provide services off campus to meet the needs of our vulnerable members.
I have been saying sorry and wearing my mask. -Torin, 6
I helped my mom and dad take care of my baby sister Ivy. -Nora, 5
I make my own breakfast, follow my parent's rules, donate gifts to other families, and love my family. -Leah, 5
Thank for checking in! Michelle walked us through every challenging step with the MN Sure process and offered many resources each step of the way. Her clarity, professionalism, and determination were evident in every meeting. It was a challenging process and the information from MN Sure was quite confusing until our final resolution. Michelle navigated the challenges and advocated for us by contacting MN Sure directly several times with us on the line so we could support as well as understand the process.
Everything came together last week when on the final call ... It was like a little miracle!
So we are all set moving forward for 2021 thanks to Michelle!
Looking forward to returning to the Y very soon.
Wishing you and everyone at the Y a very Merry Christmas!
Ho, Ho, Ho! We love to celebrate all holidays at the YMCA and this year we tried to bring a little extra cheer for some kids.Craig, our Property Site Manager, was happy to put on his Santa costume and send out videos to each youth that sent Santa a message. Kids were excited to let us know all of the nice things that they have done in the last year.
Open enrollment for insurance came to an end on December 22nd.The YMCA’s navigator, Michelle Babcock, was able to help over 100 families navigate through the enrollment process for insurance during a year that presented many new challenges.We are lucky to have added this service to our portfolio and excited to see how it grows during 2021. We have been reaching out to participants to see how we can better serve them and have been receiving some great feedback, like the following:
Please enjoy these notes of appreciation from some of our parents, teachers, and specialists about our Emergency Childcare for Tier 1 works at our Duluth Public School and Duluth Edison Charter School.
All of the teachers are raving about Tier 1 child care and how great it is going! -4th grade teacher
Thanks to you and your staff for all your help with getting kids on for schoolwork, it is no small task. -Interventionist
Thank you for all your hard work and everything you are doing! It is amazing to know that the kids will still be able to do their Google meets while in childcare. -SLP
What an amazing thing for families that their children will be able to complete some of their schoolwork during Tier 1 childcare. I'm sure that takes a great deal of stress off of them! -SEL
Thank you for everything you are doing! We really appreciate you and your staff! -Kindergarten Mom
Thank you for helping them as much as you guys have. Such a relief and weight lifted. I appreciate you all so much. You are wonderful teachers and caregivers. -Mom of 2nd grader
Gary New Duluth Rec Center Nature Programming continues to be popular. In November, we maxed out on registration with 24 kids each Wednesday. Some of the activities the youth had fun doing were: Animal Tracks with guest naturalist Dave Blazevic, along with Fire Building, Fort Making, and Fun with Fleece where they sewed their own mittens.
In the coming weeks, kids will learn about the Science of Snow, Trees, and Reindeer.
The Duluth Parks and Rec is also putting together kits for us to use for the next three weeks to fulfill their contractual obligation of providing four classes a year.We had one class in February, 2020 and then were unable to have our other three due to Covid-19.
Stowe School purchased an ice fishing shelter that we use as our second “indoor classroom” which allows us to keep our indoor group sizes down and maintain social distancing. At the beginning of 2021 the funding from the city increases and will allow us to have this programming two days a week on both Wednesdays and Fridays.
The Minnesota Department of Education awarded the Y with two additional grants totaling $35,000, to support our meal kits through the end of the year. This will allow the Y to serve more and meet the community need. Original we were serving 120 meal kits a week, but just in time for the holidays we were able to increase that to 300 meal kits a week.
In the month of November, we gave out 5,440 meals with our meal kits.
On Fridays, we also distribute weekend bags at GND Rec Center and Harbor Highlands Community Center. We gave out an additional 1,140 weekend meals.
To end December, we gave out our Holiday Meal kit on the 23rd with traditional holiday items and a $15 meat voucher from Super One. Our last meal kit date is set for December 30, 2020. These boxes were well received and those who picked up their holiday meals at the Y were grateful for the assistance.
There are about 25 students taking part in YIG this year. Over the past week, the students have received their court cases and started writing their bills. Regardless of the situation COVID-19 has put us in this year, they are still making the best of it! They come to the Zoom meetings ready to learn and work on their assignments. We all wish that the State Conference next month could be in-person, but we are still lucky to have it take place and the students will still have fun and make memories this year! Virtual Model Assembly will take place from January 7th to the 10th.
On the first day of afterschool program, a kindergartner came in crying because she didn’t know any other students. She was scared and didn’t want to participate with the other kids, so I spent time sitting and talking with her. I decided to print off coloring sheets from her favorite show to help her feel more comfortable. She came to the program the next day scared and crying again, but when I told her about the coloring pages she got so excited. She colored near the other children and eventually decided she wanted to play with them. We were so happy to see she made friends. She even came up to me and said "I am not scared anymore and I never want to go home!"
True North AmeriCorps:
True North AmeriCorps members are trained in youth development best practices, trauma responsiveness, and restorative behavior management. They use these skills to help sites respond to students’ needs, providing individualized support that sometimes seems simple, but can have a major impact. One member shares the story of how taking a little extra time and paying attention to interests can make all the difference for a child:
Make change in your community, become a True North AmeriCorps member!
True North AmeriCorps (TNAC) members serve as a Youth Development Specialists at local Youth Serving Agencies and schools. Members help youth get excited about learning, provide social and emotional support, and build resources for kids in need. This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in education, social work, youth development, or public policy.
Locations/ Program Sites: Variety of out-of-school time programs and school sites in Duluth, Saint Louis County, Lake and Cook County.
Benefits include: A bi-monthly living stipend of up to $1,290; free health, dental, and vision insurance for full time members; an education award of up to $6,195 upon successful completion; and professional development. Full time, part time, and summer positions available.
Apply today at www.truenorthamericorps.org/apply
COOK COUNTY COMMUNITY Y
A letter from a member:
Dear Cook County YMCA,
Thank you so much for keeping our Y going. You are creating a safe and welcoming place for all of us to stay healthy and strong. What you are doing matters a lot to all of us. I never did strength training before and after just a month I really noticed huge positive differences! And of course, spin classes just make me happy, I know all of you understand that!
I am going to take a one month break from exercising at the Y because I want to do everything I possibly can to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. But I want you to know that I think our Cook County Y is super safe and you guys are all beyond awesome! This is just about trying to hold myself to the strictest possible standard to try to keep everyone in our community safe.
Thank you EVERYONE at the Cook County Y. Looking forward to coming back to class as soon as possible,
On December 15th, more than 100 copies of a newly published local book, A Children’s History of Grand Marais, Minnesota: Ice Cream& Fish,written and illustrated by Cook County children, was donated to four Cook County organizations as fundraising incentives. The Cook County YMCA received 32 free copies of the softcover, full-color book created by youth enrolled in Minnesota Children’s Press’ August Pandemic Publishing Project Outdoor Book Camp and the Cook County YMCA day camp. Minnesota Children’s Press (www.minnchildpress.org) is donating one book for each of 32 years of sobriety of its publisher, Anne Brataas, who celebrates her sober birthday on Dec. 15th.
The plan is for each organization to sell or give away the books in exchange for a free-will donation with each organization using 100% of proceeds for funding local needs of their choosing.
The donated books are gratitude offerings for the following organizations’ early support of Minnesota Children’s Press and will be available for COVID-19-safe pickup and donation at: Cook County YMCA, Drury Lane Books, Minnesota Children’s Press and Grand Marais Library. The mission of Minnesota Children’s Press is to help rural children author, illustrate, publish and sell books they create to fund civic causes.
Many of the summer day campers have artwork featured in the book from the Poster Parade that they did at the Hospital’s Care Center over the summer.During the parade, our kids marched and showed their posters to the residents through the windows. It was one of the highlights of their summer and they were so proud to do something kind for their community.Now, having their work published in a real book is the icing on the cake and we couldn’t be more proud of our kids! Some of the kids have been creating artwork at home for a new book which will be published in 2021.
The second story was from a generous donor whose late wife was a volunteer nurse at Camp Miller for over a decade. Nurse Jane was loved by all and made a lasting impression on counselors and kids that attended during her time at our Camp. Her husband recently said,
I will send what and if I can until the well runs dry. I sowed a seed in Jane’s kids and grandchildren to consider donations to Camp Miller (YMCA Duluth) in memory of their mother, grandmother. It’s to be seen what kind of gardener I am.
Family philanthropy offers a powerful way to impact causes that matter and align with family values and interests. This holiday season, we saw three lovely examples of family philanthropy.
One Camp donor said, “My donation is actually my Christmas present to my parents. For years, they’ve asked my siblings and me to give to a worthy cause, instead of any other gift to them. Kind of a cool tradition. This year, I wanted to give to an organization that was serving community in the face of COVID. No better place than the Y!”
Finally, the most recent $1,500 donation for Camp came through over Christmas and was from three young adults in their early-twenties. Tommy, Anne, and Sky have been involved in the Y through swim team and Camp Miller and surprised their mother, Jenni, with a Christmas donation to the Karen Kjohaug Scholarship Fund. Jenni, was a counselor at camp when she was young, and recently has been working to seed the memorial fund created in honor of her fellow counselor, Karen Kjohaug. Jenni said, “Happiness is when you realize your children have turned out to be good people.” The Karen Kjohaug Camp Scholarship fund was created a few years ago within the Heritage Foundation Endowment by a number of camp alumni who knew Karen and wanted to continue her legacy through helping send more youth to camp.
Several volunteer groups continued to visit camp throughout December while the weather was still nice. Together, volunteers and Bernie used lumber from camp to build a fence around the propane tank farm and dumpster area. This project makes camp safer by restricting camper access to the area. In addition, it makes camp more beautiful by blocking the view of features that though necessary are not very attractive.
On December 26th, 2020, Wild State Cider released their 2nd annual People's Cider, made with backyard apples from the Duluth area, pressed on site, and blended to local perfection. The People's cider is uniquely "Duluth" because that's how it was made.
The proceeds from this cider support camper scholarships at YMCA Camp Miller. (This is the 2nd year they have chosen to support Y camps and day camps through sales of The People's Cider.)
The YMCA does amazing necessary work in our community and helps shape future great leaders and protectors of the outdoors.
Wild State Cider founders have more than 15 years experience in summer camps and their first camp job was with a YMCA camp. They support the Y because:
Employee engagement is still a focus within Human Resources. Becca Jago, our HR Fun Committee Ambassador, hosted a virtual 12 Days of Merry Making event for staff to compete in Holiday themed activities for the chance to win some great prizes. Challenges were sent out via email each day for our working employees to have a little bit of holiday cheer brighten their day. One such activity was this emoji challenge:
With Governor Walz allowing some businesses to reopen with restrictions, our HR department was in full force to ensure that all necessary employees are brought back in time for our reopening.
We have many employees who are quite excited to work again and see the familiar faces in the Y.
Can you guess the titles of the holiday songs on this list?
Photographer: We’re looking for either an amateur or professional photographer to take and edit pictures of our programs, events and facilities. Help us capture the action and smiling faces to share on our marketing platforms and spread the word about what we do at the Y. This opportunity has flexible hours and you can volunteer for as many or as few visits as you’d like. A great opportunity to utilize your talents and give back to the Y.
Food Access Program Support: Volunteers are Needed to Help Put Together Family Meal Kits and Distribute Food for good! The Duluth Y is serving the community through food distribution of Family Meal Kits. Each meal kit includes two healthy recipes and all the ingredients needed for a family of 4 to make 2 complete meals. We need help on food packing days & meal distribution days:
Early Childhood Development Center - Breakfast Delivery: We’re looking for a volunteer to help us during our breakfast time! Duties include: getting breakfast ready (no cooking experience necessary), delivering it to the classrooms, clean-up and dishes. A great opportunity for someone who likes to be around small children!
Volunteers Needed for the YMCA Afterschool Programs: We’re looking for volunteers to help with mentoring youth, being a positive role model, keeping youth engaged in activities, and homework time. Volunteers would have the opportunity to work closely with a diverse group of students, ages 5-16, within our drop-in afterschool programs.
Minimum age to volunteer is 18.
Two Program Site locations: Harbor Highlands Community Center located in Central Duluth and the Gary New Duluth (GND) Rec Center located in Gary New Duluth.
Commitment: Minimum of one hour per week
Dates: Volunteer opportunities available September through early June
Days & Times: Volunteer opportunities available Monday-Friday from 2:45-6:00 p.m. at Harbor Highlands and 2:15-5:30 p.m. at the GND Rec Center.
Location/Program Sites: The YMCA at the Essentia Wellness Center
Days & Times: This opportunity is available Monday-Friday between 8:00-9:30 a.m. Commitment: We ask that volunteers commit to a minimum of one day per week.
When: Wednesdays from 10-11:30 a.m.
Where: Harbor Highlands Community Center centrally located in Duluth
Thursdays from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the Y at the Essentia Wellness Center in Hermantown
Fridays from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the Gary Rec Center in Gary New Duluth
Practice Your ASL While Assisting Others: From time to time, we have kids and adults who are deaf or hard of hearing, who would like to attend our programs. We are in need of volunteers who have either conversational ASL skills or who are fluent in ASL, to interpret for our members and program participants in things like swimming lessons or gymnastics classes. This is a great opportunity for future deaf educators, teachers in training, ASL students, and native ASL signers.
Qualifications: Volunteers need conversational American Sign Language skills. This typically means at least 3 quarters of ASL instruction, or equivalent experience. Certification not required. We’re looking for qualified individuals.
Commitment: Participants typically come to programs once a week for 30-60 minutes for six weeks at a time.
We will work with your schedule.
BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS
Building Services Volunteer: If you like to pop in a podcast and get down to work, this is the gig for you! You can make a big difference at the Y. You will help our staff interact with members and provide a safe and clean facility for all. Duties may include things like wiping dust from surfaces, folding towels, and organizing storage spaces.
Minimum age to volunteer is 12.
Location/Program Sites: Downtown YMCA and the YMCA at the Essentia Wellness Center Days & Times: This opportunity has flexible hours and can be done whenever the Y is open.
Minimum age to volunteer is 12.
Location/Program Sites: The YMCA at the Essentia Wellness Center Days & Times: This opportunity has flexible hours and can be done whenever the Y is open.
Grounds Crew Volunteer: If you like working outside, this is the gig for you! Summer help includes watering, raking, weeding, mowing, trimming, pruning and picking up garbage. Winter help includes shoveling snow of course!
CAN YOU HELP? Contact:
Gina Miller, Volunteer & Internship Coordinator
Duluth Area Family YMCA
302 West First Street | Duluth, MN 55802
(P) 218 722 4745 ext. 159 (F) 218 722 4746