Times of crises have a way of jolting us awake. This year has brought tragedy, grief and the pangs of uncertainty to so many of us. And yet, in the midst of all that, it’s offered a moment of reckoning — a time to look inward and re-examine what is important in our lives and our communities.
For YWCA Minneapolis, this fiscal year has meant a series of shifts and adaptations as we strived to serve our community through the COVID-19 pandemic and meet the call of justice after the killing of George Floyd. So many of you joined us — volunteering at our Resource Hub, participating in critical conversations about racism, donating to our Emergency Fund, continuing your fitness memberships and trusting us to care for your children.
For more than 129 years, YWCA Minneapolis has supported women, girls and families through pivotal points in history — through periods of monumental progress, like the passing of the 19th Amendment, to periods of hardship like the 1918 Flu. This year was a momentous one. What we’ll remember is how we responded – how we supported and uplifted each other during the most challenging of times. This report is a testimony to the kindness and care our community has shown.
Thank you for continuing to be a fierce champion of this important work. We’re so grateful to be in community with you.
With gratitude and goodwill,
This community report is dedicated to our late board chair, Kate Berman.
“The journey has been in turn uncomfortable, fascinating, frightening, invigorating, exciting and more, often all at the same time. YWCA staff have been helpful in drawing us out and into this work…” – Inc.lude™ client
As a leader in the field of racial equity, we empower communities and workplaces to stand against racism, embrace new perspectives and promote justice for all people. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, many more people grew increasingly sensitive to issues of racial injustice and were activated to create change. Our Racial Justice work has always been a vital resource. This year, we had an even greater opportunity to bring people together, facilitate dialogue and help people become changemakers in their communities.
In the aftermath and condemnation of the killing of George Floyd, we launched a pop-up distribution center at our Lake Street location to provide food and hygiene supplies. For 20 years, our YWCA Midtown location on Lake Street has served as a fixture in our community. With our fitness centers closed due to COVID-19 at the time, our building was mostly empty. The decision to open it up to serve the community came out of an acknowledgment that we have this resource, the largest sports center in the Twin Cities, that would allow us to distribute food and items safely during the pandemic.
“We feel extremely grateful for YWCA as they found safe and effective ways to remain open for the children of essential workers.” – Early Childhood Education parents
We prepare children with the skills needed to thrive by creating a sense of belonging in the classroom and pushing to eliminate the opportunity gap in our state. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were more than 9,000 licensed child care providers across the state — and between 1,000 – 2,000 have already closed. Early Childhood Education is a mirror to the community. Our families have been in a heightened state of stress due to the pandemic, and our Children’s Centers rose to the challenge to support them, reopening four out of five centers by the end of June 2020.
“The community makes me feel so safe and confident. It’s my happy place.” – Youth participant
Our Girls and Youth programs equip young people to be learners, leaders and creators of change so they graduate from high school ready for college and careers. Our programs shifted quickly to be responsive to the moment and support youth and their families through a rocky time. Over the spring and summer as schools closed, our Girls and Youth teams connected with youth via 1,500+ phone calls, Zoom meetups, YouTube videos, Instagram and more.
“I love coming to the gym twice a day during my breaks from working at home. Other than weekly trips to the grocery store, YWCA Midtown is the only place I get to go and has become a vital part of my day.” – Health and Wellness member
Through welcoming, inclusive fitness services, we support people across cultures, income and age to lead healthier, more active lives. Staying healthy was the top priority for most this year and that meant balancing the fluctuating risks of doing anything at all — from visiting family to going to the gym. To help support our community as we all navigated staying well during this time, we launched a series of virtual services, including YWCA Live! Zoom classes, virtual personal training and on-demand workout videos. We worked hard to implement stringent precautions and cleaning protocols to ensure the safest facilities possible for those who were ready to come back to the gym.
Through all the events of this year, people like you were an essential part of our community, supporting this critical work. Thank you for being a part of our movement to eliminate racism, empower women and girls and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.