In 1869, a small number of young men formed a Bible study group in Goodhue County, Minnesota. More than 150 years later, that small group has blossomed into a nonprofit with generational reach and impact.
The Red Wing Family YMCA has come a long way from its humble beginnings. And while it remains true to its roots, the organization has expanded its efforts into three key areas: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.
"We're not just for young men anymore, we're for everybody," Red Wing Family YMCA CEO Bryan Soper said. "We're still about Christian principles, we're still about helpful programming. But we want people to know that we're all-inclusive and welcoming.
What makes the Red Wing Y unique is the wide array of programming it offers through each of its three pillars, Soper said. Here's a breakdown:
- Youth development: The Red Wing Family YMCA provides robust, licensed childcare services to its membership through its early childhood education center, including part-day and full-day pre-school programs. Soper said the nonprofit plans to expand those services to an additional 48 children this year to a total of 68 kids. The Y also offers summer camp programming at its own campground, Camp Pepin. Those programs were attended by about 500 children in 2022, and Soper said he expects even more this year.
- Healthy living: The Red Wing Y offers a variety of physical-activity programming, such as group exercise classes and swim lessons. The organization also provides disease-prevention programming, like Rock Steady Boxing for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.
- Social responsibility: Youth in government, drowning prevention, and other safety programs make up this pillar for the Red Wing Family YMCA.
The organization's mission is to enhance quality of life for all individuals in its community through programs that build healthy mind, body, and spirit. Soper said the Red Wing Y places specific emphasis on "all."
"We want to make sure everyone has access to our programs. Whether it's preschool, healthy living, swim lessons, or or any other kind of programming, we're not going to turn anyone away because of their inability to pay."
The Red Wing Family YMCA subsidizes its programming for those who can't afford it through grants, donors, and funds raised during its annual campaign. Last year, the organization gave out more than $235,000 for this need through membership scholarships, program scholarships, and program subsidies.
Demand for the Y's programming is growing, meaning that the organization is growing. The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to its membership and usage rates, but Soper said things have picked back up in a big way.
"We have just over 3,000 members and almost 10,000 visits a month," he said. "We're at about 70 percent of our pre-COVID levels, but still light years ahead of where we were a year ago.
"People are ready to be back, ready to be back in the community, and ready for that social connection again. That social piece is the cornerstone of what we do at the Y. Most of what we offer you can do by yourself, but the point is people want that social connection, and that's why they come to the Y."
You can help the Red Wing Family YMCA expand its reach and increase the good it does in the community. The Y is one of Spave's preferred nonprofit partners, and we're honored to support it in its mission to enhance quality of life in its community through healthy mind, body, and spirit initiatives.
You can support the Red Wing Family YMCA through the Spave app. Set up automatic, recurring donations to the organization, or make a one-time contribution. Whichever you choose, your donation will help fund membership scholarships at the Y, which help individuals access valuable programming that they otherwise wouldn't have.