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YMCA kicks off capital campaign

Michele Butler, left, outgoing chief volunteer coordinator of the YMCA of Marquette County, and YMCA CEO Jenna Zdunek speak at Monday’s annual meeting of the YMCA. The organization also kicked off this year’s annual campaign. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — The YMCA of Marquette County kicked off its 2020 annual campaign on Monday at the organization’s annual meeting, setting a goal of $120,000.

Out of every dollar raised, 100% is given to people who need the YMCA.

“It’s really what makes us a YMCA, and a lot of things make us the Y,” YMCA CEO Jenna Zdunek said, “but we have made a promise to not turn anyone away.”

She said almost 30% of its membership is on financial assistance.

“A lot of these families — where would they go?” Zdunek said. “They would have nowhere to go. They’d be at home. So, they can bring their kids swimming. They can get a scholarship for swim lessons.”

The YMCA, though, is about more than fitness.

“Some people don’t even come here to exercise,” Zdunek said. “This is their home. This might be the only place they come to get out of their house, and have a cup of coffee and have that social support.”

Zdunek also discussed some of the YMCA’s highlights in 2019.

“It’s really amazing that we had our 25th anniversary,” Zdunek said. “We’re still here and stronger than ever.”

In October, David and Thu Brule made a $1 million donation to the YMCA, helping to bring the facility out of capital debt.

Zdunek said the recent 12-month average showed 4,328 members belonged to the Marquette facility as well as the West End facility in Negaunee.

Healthy living, youth development and social responsibility are the three areas of development at the local YMCA as well as the national YMCA organization, she said.

In 2019, the YMCA of Marquette County saw about 150 training sessions a week, she said, with 31,704 group exercise participants and 2,763 group exercise classes offered. The YMCA also received a grant allowing 50 veterans to have free three-month memberships.

The 20th YMCA Run/Walk is scheduled for April 25, Zdunek said.

“There’s really a race for everyone,” she said, “and we make it very family-oriented, so you can push a stroller, have a dog, push a wheelchair.”

New to the aquatics program in 2019 were preschool swim lessons.

“That’s been a really fun addition to our programming,” Zdunek said.

The YMCA continued its LiveWise program for Alzheimer’s patients, LIVESTRONG for cancer survivors and InShape, whose partner is Pathways Community Mental Health.

To be involved in youth development, Zdunek said the YMCA has been involved in programs such as Stuff the Bus, Teen Night, Halloween at the Y and Healthy Kids Day, with lacrosse a recent addition.

The YMCA welcomed children at Gilbert Elementary School in Gwinn, K.I. Sawyer Elementary School and Lake Superior Village in Marquette at its before- and after-school programs.

The former day care center along Wright Street in Marquette, which Zdunek called “one of the missteps of the past,” was sold in 2016. The Child Development Center later was built at the Marquette facility, and now is filled to its maximum capacity at 30.

The YMCA, to be involved in social responsibility, offered $112,712 in scholarships in 2019 to low-income families.

Michele Butler, outgoing chief volunteer officer, said the annual report shows the community what the YMCA is accomplishing.

“It’s a nice tool for us to have to keep to really let them know that we’re more than a gym, that we are a facility that does many, many great things,” Butler said.

The new CVO is Amanda Filizetti Knaffla, who was introduced at Monday’s event.

She credited Zdunek, Butler and the board with working hard over the last few years “to get things back on track.”

“I’m really looking forward to carrying that forward in the future and doing bigger, better and brighter things,” Filizetti Knaffla said.

For more information on the YMCA, call 906-227-9622 or visit www.ymcamqt.org.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.