Dear YMCA Members and Guests,
As you all know, the Y is a place for ALL. It is at the core of who we are, and what we do, and our role in the community is always to find ways to fulfill that mission.
Within our continuing motivation to live our mission daily, the Y also needs to be fully aware of our place and our ability to help support any number of community needs. In some cases, we can be a lead provider, in others a partner. The Y serves youth daily in our Child Care Center and through swim lessons, gymnastics, and many other programs that provide youth development. We are a lead provider on several wellness initiatives, referrals, and classes. We are a place for seniors to increase their health and wellbeing while also building a strong network of friends. This list goes on.
On the other hand, there are other community needs that we can be a partner in, even if it’s not in a lead role. The purpose of my message today, is to address one of those needs. If you have been in our facility in the early morning hours over the last couple of months, you may have noticed an increasing number of individuals experiencing homelessness who have gathered in our lobby between the hours of 6am and 8am. The city’s evening warming shelter closes at 6am, leaving a gap in places to go indoors during that time of the day.
As mentioned above, this presents the Y with a bit of a challenge. Our mission is to serve ALL. However, it became clear that with the high volume of individuals that we were seeing with various needs, we are not equipped to be an extension of the warming shelter in the morning. This is where our role of being a community partner comes in. We were able to share this need and concern with several organizations and individuals, and I’m so grateful to share that as of this morning, we have found a location to fill this need for the rest of this season.
The Church of Peace, directly across the street from the Y, voted unanimously this weekend to open their doors from 6:30-8:30am daily. Secondly, Holy Family Catholic Church has already pulled together several volunteers to help with staffing this need, alongside the Church of Peace. The Y will continue to be a resource for folks that may need a shower, or any other service that we have the capacity to provide.
It is in times like this, that I am reminded by just how much this community cares. Seeing several community partners come together to serve in this capacity is heartwarming. Thank you to Pastor Steve and everyone at Church of Peace for opening your doors. Thank you to Erin and Holy Family for your work on ensuring volunteer needs are met. Thank you also, to the Salvation Army, Solutions Center, the Fond du Lac Library, the City of Fond du Lac, ADVOCAP, and anyone else who serves those in most need in our community.
Finally, thank you all for your patience and your support of the Y while we worked towards a community solution. I have had compassionate-filled conversations with several members over the last couple of weeks, and I am very grateful for the grace and support that we have been shown. There is still lots of work to be done to overcome this community need, but I am more confident than ever that we have the right people and organizations in town to address it.
If you have any questions, or would like to get involved by volunteering at Church of Peace, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
“None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” – Mother Teresa.
JJ Raflik, CEO/Executive Director
Fond du Lac Family YMCA