Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Get Involved. Take A Stand.

Members of the Champaign-Urbana Community,

This year our nation has experienced one of the most divisive elections in modern history. Like many of you, we are trying to understand what the results will mean for our work and how to move forward. At our Board of Governors meeting just two days after the election, we set aside our regular agenda to discuss this in more depth. Here are our thoughts.

We believe that our ability to engage in open debate and discourse about differences in policy, ideology, and methodology is one of the great strengths of our democracy. Sadly, this election has been marked by dangerous and inflammatory rhetoric that has consumed the conversation and produced a damaging environment of fear and distrust. We condemn any language or actions that target and attack specific populations — such attacks are an affront to us all.

The University Y remains committed to leaders of student programs who work tirelessly to address the issues of social justice, environmental protection, global engagement and interfaith dialogue. Those challenges will likely be even greater, based on the positions being expressed by the next administration. It is critical that we stand by students at the Y and provide them with the resources and support that they need for their voices to be heard. We encourage you to read their letter drafted in the aftermath of the election. Now, more than ever, their work is key to preserving the promise of a better tomorrow.

We recognize the legitimate concerns of students and community members regarding their safety and well-being. We renew and reaffirm our commitment at the University Y to serve as a safe, open space for all members of our community free from persecution and hate. We support your right to be who you are and respect your beliefs as part of the rich diversity of our community. Discrimination has no place in our community. We will defend the right of every person to live, work, play, cry, celebrate, mourn, and worship in safety.

We have much work to do. Many students and supporters of the Y are telling us that the election has shaken their view of who we are as a nation. But history has taught that each crisis also provides an opportunity. In the coming weeks and months, there will be a myriad of opportunities to lend your voice to issues and policies that will define who we are as a nation. We hope you will stay engaged and active. 

Thank you for your support and commitment to the values we hold dear. We can make a difference if we unite around our shared values, so we invite you to join with us and stand for the principles of inclusivity, mutual respect, and compassion.


The University YMCA Board of Governors

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Press Release/PSA: Art @ the Y presents HOODED TRUTHS by Candace Hunter

Press Release
For Immediate Release
August 17, 2016

For media inquiries, contact:
Megan Flowers, University YMCA Communications Director

Art at the Y presents
"HOODED TRUTHS" by Candace Hunter
HOODED TRUTHS is on view in Murphy Gallery of the University YMCA
from 9:00am to 9:00pm on Mondays through Thursdays and from 9:00am to 5:00pm on Fridays from August 25, 2016 through October 7, 2016
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The University YMCA is pleased to present, HOODED TRUTHS by Candace Hunter as part of the Art @ the Y public arts initiative. HOODED TRUTHS will open with a public reception on August 25, 2016 at the University YMCA’s Murphy Gallery at 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, Illinois, 61820. A viewing will begin at 5:00pm followed by a gallery talk with the artist herself, Candace Hunter at 5:30pm. Light refreshments will be served. The reception will close at 7:00pm. HOODED TRUTHS is on view in Murphy Gallery of the University YMCA from 9:00am to 9:00pm on Mondays through Thursdays and from 9:00am to 5:00pm on Fridays from August 25, 2016 through October 7, 2016. More information is available at universityymca.org/art.

HOODED TRUTHS is a cornucopia of images, ideas and personas all swathed in the costume of 21st Century America - the hoodie. In the exhibit Hunter explores the history of Blackness in this country. A history that Candace Hunter describes as ‘"a painful and complicated affair, brightened by the indomitable spirit of countless fathers, mothers, teachers, clergy and artists who continue to shed light on this country’s 'Hooded Truths.'"


ARTIST'S STATEMENT: “Much of my work is concerned with social inequality along both national and global fronts. My imagery explores historical moments. Moments that celebrate the beauty of a people or the necessary light upon violence against humanity, in its many forms, with special attention to the plight of women and children. Through research, I engage with the past and use my art to give a public and present voice to those whose voices have been silenced or just plainly, ignored. Although I am well known for my collage-based work, I implement a wide variety of media to manifest my work. My work is rarely conceived as a single piece, but is instead imagined as an entire body of work around a central theme, such as the 32 pieces in Hooded Truths (2014), which also includes installation and performance. In addition, I make use of text and performance in my work to strengthen the voice. My practice is socially engaged, personally, in my interaction and collaboration with other artists, and politically, in my activism through my work.” Candace Hunter, a native of Chicago, studied the plastic arts and performance arts at Barat and Mundelein Colleges in the Chicago area. For more information about the work of Candace Hunter, please visit:  http://www.chleeart.com/

"Her work is beautiful, evocative and oftentimes controversial such as her recent series, Hooded Truths. The collection of paintings force you to look at the murders of young Black men represented by the “hoodie” associated with Trayon Martin. ‘Hooded’ means covered, therefore hidden and so as we look at the many senseless murder of unarmed Black men by policemen where the truth has been hidden. The Hooded Truths Collection is soul stirring and evokes sadness, anger, empathy and compassion. It inspires us to do something to change the way Black men are seen and mistreated in the world." -from The Chicago Defender http:// chicagodefender.com/2015/ 05/15/ artist-candace-hunter-opens -her-doors-to-you/

Art @ the Y is a public arts initiative of the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign. All Art @ the Y events are free and open to the public. For more information about Art @ the Y, visit: universityymca.org/art
Murphy Gallery Hours
Mondays-Thursdays from 9am to 9pm
Fridays from 9am to 5pm
Closed on weekends, except in the case of special events. If you would like to schedule a group tour during the weekend, contact Ann Rasmus at ann@universityymca.org or at 217-337-1500

Murphy Gallery Summer Hours
(From May 23, 2016-August 19, 2016)
Mondays-Fridays from 9am to 4pm

Parking Nearby:
Parking lot on 6th between Daniel & Chalmers - Free after 5pm.
Parking garage on 6th & John - Free after 5pm.
Street parking on Wright, Chalmers, & 6th Streets for 75¢ per hour.
Municipal lot on Green & 5th Streets for $1 per hour.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Y Stories: For A Better Us

Looking back on this year, it is clear that our campus, community and country are facing unprecedented challenges. Yet here at the Y, we are fortunate to witness the optimism and energy of outstanding student leaders. In fact, some of our most significant initiatives are a result of the work of our student leaders. From Alternative Seasonal Breaks to VIS-A-VIS, we had a chance to sit down with YMCA student program leaders and ask them what the University YMCA means to them. 

This is what Vick, Irfan, Joe, and Catherine shared with us:

Y Stories: Vicki Prince

Click Here To Watch Vicki's Y Story

Community service has always been a big part of Vicki’s life; developing her leadership with the Y’s VIS-A-VIS Volunteer Tutoring student program gives her insight into how community service shapes her future as a civically engaged leader. Vicki’s dream is to become ambassador to China as she continues to study Mandarin and study abroad in China. 

Vicki sees the Y helping her develop her relationship-building skills and keeping her community-minded and attentive in addressing growing issues of today. 

“When you’re on campus, you get so involved with campus that you forget that Champaign and Urbana are cities and not just college towns. So I think the Y has been great at getting involved in the community,” says Vicki. Vicki is also a part of initiatives that are working to create meaningful change on campus too. This past year, Vicki served as an intern with Intercultural Horizons, a global engagement initiative of the University YMCA that promotes better relationships between domestic and international students on campus. 

During the Spring semester, the Intercultural Horizons interns created the Conversation Hour Program, which was open to everyone to learn about other cultures through group art projects that help encourage dialogue between domestic and international students. Vicki sees this program as a great start to break down the barriers between international and domestic students and support more inclusive relationships on campus. She looks forward to continuing this work with the Y.

With your support, more stories like Vicki's can be told. Make your gift to the Y today at: universityymca.org/support_us/

Y Stories: Irfan Ali

Click Here To Watch Irfan's Y Story

Irfan Ali is studying to be a doctor; and it may come to the surprise of some that practicing medicine well hinges on understanding people from diverse social and cultural backgrounds. “How to interact, it sounds simple,” says Irfan, “but interaction comes with being able to be empathetic in a conversation. That’s really important, especially in my medical career where I’ll be working on a team and listening to other’s opinions.” Irfan says a lot of what he has learned about encouraging greater understanding of each other is through his leadership with Interfaith In Action, a student program of the University YMCA.

Through Irfan’s involvement with Interfaith In Action as a second-year student, Irfan started hearing more about what other YMCA organizations were doing and the common goal of social justice work that the YMCA promotes. “Promoting the understanding of equality and diversity is a really big part of the YMCA and that’s my main connection with the Y,” says Irfan.
With Interfaith In Action, promoting better understanding on campus is exactly what Irfan is working towards. 

This past year, every monthly dialogue that Interfaith has hosted at the Y is about working towards a bigger goal of getting discussion started and encouraging others to think about the concept of interfaith cooperation for the advancement of social justice. Next year, as president of Interfaith In Action, Irfan is also looking forward to talking with the University of Illinois about creating a prayer or mediation space. Irfan is excited for the possibilities of public prayer space on campus to encourage inclusivity and greater understanding. 

With your support, more stories like Irfan's can be told. Make your gift to the Y today at: universityymca.org/support_us

Y Stories: Joe Edwards

Click Here To Watch Joe's Y Story

Joe Edwards has always been a nature guy. When Joe was little, he liked to go in the woods and play outside. He still does, and he wants his daughter to be able to experience his same love of nature throughout her lifetime. “I have this creature that’s going to live in times that I’m not going to live in. I want to make sure that those times aren’t completely terrible.”

Joe’s passion for environmental activism was first sparked when he saw documentary called Coal Country, which is about how awful mountaintop removal is in West Virginia and how ingrained coal extraction is in their communities. After watching Coal Country, Joe started going with his roommate, Harry, to Beyond Coal meetings, a campaign of Students For Environmental Concerns (SECs).   This year, Joe became co-president of Beyond Coal with Jackie Genova; and, under their leadership, the group experienced one of their biggest accomplishments in its 6-year campaign history: They got the Academic Senate to vote in favor of coal divestment. 

This vote represents a very strong statement from the entire campus community that divesting from coal companies and investing in socially responsible companies should happen. As Joe moves forward with plans to become an ecologist, he excited to hear about next steps in having the University of Illinois commit to a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) plan. Joe is says he’s proud to be a part of the Y, for not only helping students drive lasting change, but also in being a positive space where he feels his ideas and passions are supported.

With your support, more stories like Joe's can be told. Make your gift to the Y today at universityymca.org/support_us

Y Stories: Catherine Schmid 

Click Here To Watch Catherine's Y Story
What you might see in politics and religion out in the world today is that people are so focused on differences, dividing and putting people in harmful categories. For Catherine Schmid, the Y is all about combating that ever-pervasive problem of divisive behavior through drawing on people’s strengths in leadership development and building lasting relationships. Catherine Schmid is a third-year student at the U. of I. and has been serving this year as a trip-coordinator with Alternative Seasonal Breaks, a student program of the University YMCA.

For Catherine, being involved with Alternative Seasonal Breaks is about the process of learning about an issue, experiencing it first-hand, and taking that knowledge that you have learned on your trip and sharing that with other people. She says that’s when you grow, because you’re not just learning in the classroom - you’re experiencing. 

At the Y, Catherine has learned that her leadership is not only about being responsible for the task she’s committed to completing, but that she’s responsible for the people involved as well.  “Leadership isn’t about being in charge of something, but about helping people be their best self,” says Catherine.

Finding community at the Y was really important to Catherine. Having somewhere where you can go and be yourself and be with people who are passionate about what they do–that has made all the difference for Catherine this year.

With your support, more stories like Catherine's can be told. Make your gift today at universityymca.org/support_us/

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Blood Drive In Honor of Steve Shoemaker

Dear Friends,
I would like to invite the community to join with the University YMCA, McKinley Church & Foundation, the Krannert Center and the Community Blood Services in participating in the first Steve Shoemaker Blood Drive.
Born and raised in Urbana, Steve has spent much of his life serving the community through a wide range of community and church organizations, including 10 years as the executive director of the University Y.
At the heart of Steve's service was a commitment to social justice and a concern for all segments of our community — especially those in need.
The University Y is proud to celebrate Steve's contribution by joining with Community Blood Services in sponsoring this special Blood Drive from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 19, in the lobby of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana.
Even when facing terminal pancreatic cancer, Steve is thinking about how he can contribute to the greater good — and this blood drive in his honor is one of the ways he is paying it forward.
Did you know:
— That a single blood donation can save up to three lives.
— All the blood collected at the drive will supply local hospitals.
— The No. 1 use of our blood product is for people fighting cancer.
— And blood donations drop by nearly 20 percent during the summer months.
The University Y encourages all who can to join with us on July 19 and ask a friend or family member to sign up online at http://www.bloodcenterimpact.org using Code #70978.
Mike Doyle
Executive Director
University YMCA

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Reflections from Sierra Leone YMCA Partnership Trip

At end of May I had an amazing opportunity to travel to Sierra Leone with University Y staff, board, trustee, and  members of the U of I faculty. My purpose for traveling was to build relationships and scout out the possibilities for partnerships between the University Y and the Y of Sierra Leone. I was also traveling as an ambassador for the Urbana Rotary’s International Service Committee. The Rotary is similarly interested in the potential for partnership and water, health, sanitation and education projects that could engage its membership.

Sam Smith, University YMCA Board Member and Engagement 
Director of the University of Illinois Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, greets 
Christian Kamara, CEO and National Secretary of the YMCA of Sierra Leone 
with an Urbana Rotary t-shirt. Sam Smith, as an ambassador for the 
Urbana Rotary International Service Committee, is exploring the potential 
partnership for possible service projects to engage its membership.
On our trip we were hosted by Christian Kamara, the capable and personal leader of the YMCA in Sierra Leone. Our travel and accommodations were comfortable, affordable safe, instructive, and well organized. The presence of Mr. Kamara’s young, dedicated and equally competent staff provided broad and specific insight to the history and current challenges of this incredibly beautiful country.

One simple session that I learned on previous trips to the African continent is that Africa is big. The second largest continent it boasts hundreds of languages, distinct culture, histories, challenges and resources. Sierra Leone is one of the many distinct countries with a history deeply connected to the history of the United States. The country is a fabulous set of opportunities to learn more deeply the amazing manifestations of human culture, spirit, creativity and ingenuity. The possibilities for meaningful person-to-person engagement, unique and innovative project development are exciting, vast and concrete.

We have already begun to plan for Mr. Kamara’s visit to Champaign-Urbana and Chicago; I look forward to his sharing his insight and knowledge of so many areas of human and community development.

The pregnancy of potential and possibility is palpable and the cadre of willing, available, competent partners is inspirational. This next chapter is gonna be a blast.

Sam Smith
Board Member
University YMCA

Wednesday, June 8, 2016



Illinois & Sierra Leone YMCAs partner for new global service learning exchange program following Ebola Crisis relief efforts

With the Ebola virus outbreak now ended in Sierra Leone, the University YMCA, the Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs, and the Sierra Leone YMCA are revisiting an international-service learning exchange partnership that was brought to a halt by the Ebola outbreak relief efforts in 2014. The re-engagement of the partnership is marked by the University YMCA's visit to Sierra Leone in late May 2016. Post-trip, the University YMCA and Ys across Illinois are encouraging community members, U of I campus members and organizations in Illinois to learn more about the partnership and ways they could get involved during the Sierra Leone YMCA's visit in Illinois in late June 2016.

On May 30, 2016, a delegation of University YMCA members (Far Left, Second Row: Enrique Rebolledo, University YMCA Global Engagement Coordinator; Front Center: Samuel Smith, Engagement Director for the University of Illinois Krannert Center for the Performing Arts; Far Right, Second Row: Jerry Glashagel, University YMCA Global Engagement Committee Member & Trustee) visits the Kenema Branch of the YMCA of Sierra Leone to learn more from members of Peace Group (pictured above), which is a peer-to-peer conflict resolution program, advised by Francess Reffell, Program Director of the Sierra Leone YMCA Kenema Branch (Pictured Front Row, Far Right). 

The YMCA of the University of Illinois and the Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs are pleased to announce that we are currently in the process of establishing a partnership with the YMCA of Sierra Leone. The focus of this partnership is the development of a mutually-beneficial international service-learning exchange program that aligns with Y’s mission. Today, with a growing number of youth pursuing international service-learning experiences as part of their education, the Sierra Leone YMCA partnership aims to give youth in Sierra Leone and in Illinois the tools to develop into culturally competent leaders in global service. 

“The Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs is thrilled to see this growing partnership between the University Y and the Sierra Leone Y," says Meg Cooch, Executive Director of the Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs. "As Illinois Ys, we hope to be able to support this work going forward.”

On June 27 & 28, 2014, the University YMCA hosts Christian Kamara, CEO/National Secretary for the Sierra Leone YMCA. Pictured left to right on bottom row: Walt McMahon (Retired U of I professor and member of the University YMCA), Mabinty Tarawallie (MSW student) (and daughter), Christian Kamara (CEO of Sierra Leone YMCA), Pictured left to right on top row: Kasey Umland, University YMCA Associate Director, Mike Doyle, University YMCA Executive Director, Enrique Rebolledo, University YMCA Global Engagement Program Coordinator, and Vaneitta Goines, Program Adviser for the U of I's Office of Volunteer Programs and University YMCA Board Member.

The University YMCA and the Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs invite YMCAs from across the State of Illinois to meet Christian Kamara, the CEO/National Secretary of the YMCA of Sierra Leone to learn more about the work that they do and explore possible collaborations. Two opportunities to connect are: Monday, June 20, 2016 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St, Champaign, Illinois AND Thursday, June 24, 2016 from 11:30am to 1:00pm at the YMCA of the USA, 101 Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois. To RSVP to either event, please click here:http://tinyurl.com/slymca . Both events are free and open to the public.

"My Y supported the University Y’s efforts to help fight Ebola with the Sierra Leone Y because my members want to support Y work internationally and this project offered a bridge between Illinois and Sierra Leone in a concrete way," says Andrew Bobbitt, CEO of the Fox Valley Family YMCA. "We continue to support the growing partnership and connect between the Sierra Leone Y and Illinois with Christian Kamara’s visit.”

Serving 23 communities across the country, the YMCA of Sierra Leone’s programs promote youth and young adult development in the areas of civic education, community health, human rights, job training, computer literacy and agricultural development. The heart of the Y's youth education efforts lies in developing cause-driven leadership, serving and advocating for low-income communities across the country. To learn more about the work of the YMCA of Sierra Leone, visit:http://www.sierraleoneymca.org/programme-focus/
"Thanks to YMCA World Service and partners like the University YMCA-UIUC and the Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs, we reached out to thousands of people with Ebola prevention messages," said Francess Reffell, Program Director of the Sierra Leone YMCA's Kenema Branch. "We are looking forward to growing this collaboration into a mutually-beneficial partnership to support global leadership." 

​Enrique Rebolledo, University YMCA Global Engagement Coordinator ​greets Christian Kamara, CEO/National Secretary of the Sierra Leone YMCA with a University YMCA program t-shirt (Dump & Run Community Recycling Program) and a University of Illinois themed backpack at the Sierra Leone YMCA headquarters office in Freetown, Sierra Leone. 

“I am very excited to see first hand the kind of work that Sierra Leone YMCA does for youth development and social responsibility,” says Enrique Rebolledo, University YMCA Global Engagement Program Coordinator. “I am looking forward to meeting the Sierra Leone YMCA programming staff to explore collaborations for the kind of community-driven work that we are doing. I hope that people can join us in welcoming the Sierra Leone YMCA at the end of June.” 

To learn more about the Sierra Leone Partnership, please visit:universityymca.org/global/slymca

Press Release
For Immediate Release
June 6, 2016

For media inquires, contact:
Megan Flowers, University YMCA Communications Director


Thursday, May 12, 2016

We Need You (And Your Stuff) For One Great Cause!

Dump & Run, A Community Recycling Event
YMCA of the University of Illinois

Be a part of reducing litter and consumer waste, saving space in landfills, & providing inexpensive items for folks to purchase in the fall. Drop off accepted donations at the University YMCA (corner of Wright & Chalmers) during May 2016 collection days as part of the Y's community recycling event, Dump & Run. The Y is also hosting furniture pick up days for May 10 and 11, 2016 only. Please visit our website at universityymca.org/dump_and_run to schedule an appointment for us to come pick up your donated furniture for free for May 10 & 11 pickup days only. Please note that do NOT take sofa beds or TVs.

“The University YMCA takes pride in advancing environmental responsibility on campus through our student organizations, and Dump & Run embodies how much of an impact we make when we all work together,” said Executive Director Mike Doyle. “These May collection days provide our community with the opportunity to give our belongings a new life.” Last year, the Y was able to keep approximately 36 tons of reusable items out of the landfills.

The Y's Dump & Run program has been a completely volunteer-run program since its inception 15 years ago as a small garage sale at the University YMCA. Each year, the Y relies on volunteers in the community and on campus to make one of the biggest recycling events in Champaign-Urbana happen. To sign up to volunteer, please visit:universityymca.org/dump_and_run/volunteer/ When you volunteer, you get first dibs on the things collected (after only 6 hours of volunteering) - and we get an unbelievable amount of great things donated!  Dump & Run volunteer opportunities during May Collection Days start May 9 and run trough May 25.  The Y especially relies on the help of volunteers during peak collections activities on the dates of Saturday, May 14 and Monday, May 16, 2016. Volunteer drivers are also greatly needed. If you are interested in driving to pick up and drop-off donations, please indicate that you are willing to drive in the "comment" section of the volunteer sign-up form. 

For more information about the University YMCA's Dump & Run program, please visit: universityymca.org/dump_and_run/

May 2016 Collection Days
Monday-Saturday: May 9 through May 14, 2016 from 9am to 4pm only
Furniture Pick up days: May 10 and 11, 2016 only. By appointment only: univeristyymca.org/dump_and_run/

Donation Drop-Off Location: University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St, Champaign, IL 61820 (Corner of Wright and Chalmers on the U of I campus)

We collect furniture, dishes, glassware, pots & pans, small household appliances, computers, electronics, bicycles, office & school supplies, nearly-new clothing, books, toiletries, lawn & garden, artwork, vinyl & cds, musical instruments, sporting equipment & other household goods.

We do not collect televisions, paint, child/infant car seats, stoves, washers, dryers, non-working electronics & computer parts, sleeper sofas, mattresses, televisions, or large exercise equipment.
The University YMCA reserves the right to refuse any donation offered, based on but not limited to, its size, weight, and condition.

Questions? Contact the University YMCA at 217-337-1500

Visuals: During May Collection Days, the University Y’MCAs Latzer Hall becomes a fine-tuned collections hub; volunteers collecting, sorting, and packing items donated from campus and community members alike.

Photo Opportunities: Saturday, May 14 (9pm to 12pm) and Monday, May 16 (9am to 4pm) will be peak collections activities, in which we are loading and unloading donations from dormitories and sorority and fraternity houses, sorting and packing donations to be taken to the U of I Stock Pavilion in preparation for the Sale in August. On Wednesday, May 25 from 1:30pm to 4:00pm and Thursday, May 26, 8:30am to 11:30am, Lincoln's Challenge of Rantoul, Illinois will be volunteering at the University YMCA, transporting all sorted and bagged donations to semi-trailers, which will be taken to the U of I Stock Pavilion in preparation for the sale on August 20 and 21, 2016.

PSA/Press Release
For Immediate Release
May 3, 2016

For media inquires, contact: Megan Flowers, YMCA Communications Director
[217-37-1500; megan@universityymca.org


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Art @ the Y presents "Growing Community," Photographs by Erich Adickes and Partnering Community Gardens

Art @ the Y presents

"Growing Community": Photographs by Erich Adickes, and Partnering Community Gardens

On view in Murphy Gallery of the University YMCA
from April 28, 2016 through August 2016.

Nearly fifty million Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap project, Champaign County suffers from a 16.7% food insecurity rate, higher than the 15.3% food insecurity rate of Cook County, where Chicago and much of the surrounding metropolitan area is located. One of the problems contributing to both hunger and obesity in our communities is poor access to healthy, affordable foods. Addressing local hunger and lack of access to fresh produce is one of the major problems that Sola Gratia Farm, Prosperity Gardens, and Randolph Community Garden are missioned to solve.

The farm and gardens featured in Growing Community document the work of several local community efforts to grow good, healthy food close to home and to make it accessible to everyone.This local foods movement creates new bridges and partnerships between people of shared values and community commitment.  As individuals and groups work together, they reveal a new and deeper community of shared hopes, values and commitment to our neighbors.

Exhibition & Event Details: Please join us for the opening reception of Growing Community at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St, Champaign on Thursday, April 28, 2016 from 5pm to 7pm. Viewing will begin at 5pm, followed by a Gallery Talk at 5:30pm. Light refreshments will be provided.

Growing Community will be on view in the Y’s Murphy Gallery from 9am to 9pm, Mondays through Thursdays and from 9am to 5pm on Fridays through August 2016. Please note that during the summer months, Murphy Gallery will be open Mondays through Fridays from 9am to 4pm. Art @ the Y is a cause-driven, public arts initiative of the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St, Champaign, IL 61820. All Art @ the Y events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit: universityymca.org/art.

Who: Prosperity Gardens, a Champaign non-profit, was created in 2010 to address the growing problems of youth obesity and limited nutrition knowledge, while providing job training and employment opportunities in agricultural sciences and food production. Its urban gardening programming, currently centered on two city-owned lots on North First Street, provides hands-on garden-based education and green business employment opportunities and offers affordable, locally grown produce for Champaign-Urbana’s low-income residents. Prosperity Gardens’ services target urban neighborhoods that are considered “food deserts” by the USDA, where access to healthy foods is limited by a lack of resources and full service grocery options.

Randolph Street Community Garden is a volunteer run project committed to providing an opportunity for the residents of the North-end of Champaign to grow their own fresh organic produce. Their goals are to improve the access of fresh foods to the North-end of Champaign; provide educational programming to the youth and adults about the benefits of gardening; establish a mini-market to sell extra produce; create a venue for outdoor activities for neighborhood families; and establish an honor garden to recognize those who have done significant work towards making the community a better place.

Sola Gratia Farm is a four-acre produce farm started as a project of St. Matthew Lutheran Church and Faith in Place in Urbana, IL.This small-scale urban vegetable farm was established with the overall goal of building a regional food system where high-quality, locally grown produce is available to everyone, especially those at an economic disadvantage.  As a church project, Sola Gratia Farm is required to provide at least 10% of the produce grown to hunger abatement programs. Since 2012, Sola Gratia Farm has donated nearly 30% of its total harvest (over 32,000 pounds). Sola Gratia Farm is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program with shares available to the public for purchase. For more information, please visit: http://solagratiafarm.org/ or call 217-417-1330.

Press Release/PSA
For Immediate Release
April 13, 2016

For media inquiries contact:
Megan Flowers, University YMCA Communications Director


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Announcing the 2015-2016 recipients of the YMCA Cause-Driven Leadership Awards!

The University YMCA is pleased to announce the 2015-2016 recipients of the University YMCA's Cause-Driven Leadership Awards.

The following award recipients recognized are:

Sana Singh and Jacob Ferruzzi for the Harold W. Colvin Award for Undergraduate Leadership;
Ann Abbott for the J. Fredrick Miller Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service;
Kimball Anderson Esq. for the Edward Nestigen Award for University YMCA Alumni;
Ruta Rauber for Distinguished Service Award (non-student);
Benjamin Daniels and Catherine Kemp for Distinguished Service Award (student); and
Keilin Jahnke for the John Price Award for Volunteer Service to International Understanding.

Recipients of the Colvin, Miller, Nestigen, and the Distinguished Service Awards will be honored at the University YMCA's Annual Dinner & Auction at the I-Hotel on Saturday, April 16, 2016. For those interested in attending the Annual Dinner & Auction, please RSVP by April 8, 2016 online at universityymca.org/auction or in person at the Y.  For more information about each award recipient, please view the biographies provided below.

The University YMCA seeks to recognize those individuals whose involvement has positively impacted the University YMCA and the Champaign-Urbana community. Each year, recipients are chosen and honored for their commitment to the organization and mission of the University YMCA. These individuals are honored at the Annual Dinner & Auction in the spring and recognized on plaques found in Latzer Hall. The John Price Award for Volunteer Service to International Understanding is awarded each year at the Y's International Dinner & Performance Night in March.

For more information about scholarships and awards of the University YMCA, visit universityymca.org/awards/.

Harold W. Colvin Award for Undergraduate Leadership

Jacob Ferruzzi

Few students are as devoted to racial justice as Jake; yet, he is so humble about his accomplishments and the extent of his involvement. Jake has served as a co-director for Prison Justice Project’s CU Succeed mentoring program. He contributed to strengthen and expand the program to reach more students in need. Before that, he served as a planner for UIUC's annual Civil Rights Pilgrimage, as well as a Tunnel of Oppression coordinator. In his junior year, he was invited to lead a research lab with Dr. Neville to study youth civic engagement in youth of color, facilitating several focus groups last summer in Chicago as part of that work. For over a year, he has interned with Representative Carol Ammons where he is in charge of the Judicial and Criminal Justice Panel that discusses ways to reform the criminal justice system with constituents. He was a transcriber for Dr. Mendenhall's research project with Black single mothers in Chicago and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Jake will be graduating in May and plans to become a Civil Rights Lawyer.

Sana Singh

Sana has showed an amazing amount of commitment, resilience, and impeccable leadership in her time serving as the Director of Alternative Seasonal Breaks, a student program of the University YMCA. Sana’s involvement with ASB began as a first year student. Since then, she has remained actively involved all the way through her senior year, including serving on the ASB board for three years. Sana worked tirelessly in serving not only in her position of Director, but as Multimedia, Internal, and Public Relations chairs as well. Throughout this, she has demonstrated her positive leadership, inspiring confidence and pragmatism in working with the board. Sana is committed to diversity and inclusion. Her leadership was made evident in the Fall of 2015, when the Champaign-Urbana chapter of Black Lives Matter and black students on campus were attacked by the creation of the “Illini White Student Union.” Sana approached the YMCA Student Board presidents to propose that the 12 YMCA student programs and Student Board take a stance in support of black students and Sana was a main contributor in the letter-writing process.

J. Fredrick Miller Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service

Ann Abbott

Ann Abbott has been a committed advocate to the spanish speaking community in Champaign Urbana and a passionate advocate for service learning. Ann's "Spanish in the Community" classes challenge U. of I. students to step out of their comfort zones and to use their language skill in the community to make a difference for some of CU's most vulnerable members. Ann advocates for our growing Spanish-speaking newcomers in our community by partnering with local agencies, schools, clinics and organizations to not only provide her students with learning opportunities but to provide newcomers with resources from the community. Among the programs receiving volunteers from her courses are La Linea, the Ys ESL helpline for newcomers, and VIS-A-VIS (VAV) Volunteer Tutoring. She has worked side by side with VAV not only to provide Spanish-speaking tutors but also to develop ways in which VAV and the class may work together to support the learning opportunities of tutors and students, such as subject specific vocabulary lists. She has also been a reliable and thoughtful reader for the University YMCA’s Fred S. Bailey Scholarship for Cause-Driven Leaders since 2010.

Edward Nestigen Award for University YMCA Alumni

Kimball Anderson 

Kimball Anderson was the student President at the University Y in 1974. While at the Y, Kimball organized the Coalition Voter Registration, a program that registered students to vote and successfully obtained in court the right of students to vote in Champaign County.

Kimball received his BA in 1974 and his JD in 1977 (U. of Ill. College of Law, 1st in his class). He then joined Winston & Strawn LLP,  where he practices today as a trial lawyer.

Since his University Y days, Kimball has remained active in social justice causes. He secured the release of wrongfully convicted persons, represented Guantanamo Bay detainees, argued a landmark habeas corpus case before the U.S. Supreme Court, and represented the homeless. In recognition, Kimball has received numerous awards, including: the Justice John Paul Stevens Award  (the Chicago Bar Association’s highest honor), ABA Pro Bono Award (the ABA’s highest pro bono award), Business Professional People for the Public Interest Law “40 Who’ve Made a Difference”; Chicago Legal Clinic’s Cardinal Bernardin Award; Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago Lifetime Achievement Award (2008); AIDS Legal Council of Chicago 2006 Advocate of the Year; U.S. District Court and the Federal Bar Association Public Interest Service Award; and the “Person of the Year” (Chicago Lawyer Magazine).

Distinguished Service Award (Non-Student)

Ruta Rauber

For over 10 years, Rut Rauber a has served as a dedicated volunteer for the Y’s community recycling program, Dump & Run. Not only does she spend countless hours over many weeks in both May and August literally in the muck sorting, organizing and saving useable items from the trash, she has also stepped up to take more leadership every year she has been involved in the program. For the past several years, Ruta has served as the coordinator for the kitchen and household departments, which are the two largest departments at the program’s sale. In 2013, during the Y’s transition without a development director to lead the program, Ruta stepped up to be co-site volunteer coordinator in May. For the past two years, she has served on the annual dinner planning committee. She has helped with set-up, decorations, and staging. Beyond her dedicated service, as a constant advocate, always engaging others in the work of the University YMCA.

Distinguished Service Award (Student)

Ben Daniels

Ben’s leadership as President of the UIUC chapter of Amnesty International is responsible for transforming the group into one of the most effective and participatory student programs at the University YMCA. He made Amnesty a place where members with strong drive and self-motivation can leverage the group to effectively advocate for social justice in their own areas of interest, while less-directed members can still meaningfully participate in addressing social justice issues. This has manifested in separate member-led committees within Amnesty working on projects as diverse as collaborations with La Colectiva, fundraising for R.A.C.E.S., fundraising for elementary school students in Pajule, Uganda, implementing Congo Awareness Week, and planning multiple events for Sexual Assault Awareness month. Ben is also co-president of the YMCA student board. He attends meetings held by each student group at the YMCA to foster inter-group communication and make sure he is up-to-date with their activities. Ben invests so much time and effort into his leadership roles at the YMCA because he is a true believer in a core aspect of the YMCA’s mission: to help individuals and communities develop ethical principles and responsible leadership for social justice.

Catherine Kemp

As an environmental leader, Catherine has exemplified YMCA values through her service, mentorship, and dedication to so many different programs. As a fellow environmental organization at the Y, Students for Environmental Concerns (SECs) continually looks to Catherine and the Green Observer Magazine to help achieve shared goals. Catherine is always there with a smile and ready to help in whatever way she can. Catherine is a continual supporter of the shared mission of environmental activism, collaborating with SECs on events and promoting their work through publishing articles. Considering that Catherine’s position as “Editor of the Green Observer” is only one of the many roles she has, it is amazing that she has the time and energy to work above and beyond in that position. Catherine also works for Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and the Environment on their newly-founded bike-share program, organizes the Portraits Project, serves as ride-leader for Illini 4000 and serves as co-president of the YMCA Student Board. Catherine’s dedication to the environmental movement and every other social justice cause that comes through the doors of the YMCA continues to instill inspiration in others.

John Price Award for International Service to International Understanding

Keilin Janhke

Keilin has been deeply involved in international service work, contributing to meeting the needs of the developing world since her first year as a student at the U. of I. She cut her teeth on international service design as a project manager for the LINC Mali Water Project, then became involved in Engineers Without Borders (EWB) -- primarily as a graduate-student researcher evaluating the impact of service work on student learning outcomes -- and traveled to Adu Achi with the EWB team.  Keilin is one of the originators and remains a co-instructor of the ENG398/598 Honduras Water Project course, and has led student teams on site in Honduras all three years of the course's existence. Now, as a PhD student, she is working with Dr. Bruce Litchfield's research team to develop a sustainable solar cooker for the developing world. Her openness to cultural influences in engineering combined with her get-it-done attitude about working contextually with communities to achieve successful outcomes has brought Keilin Janhke to the forefront of contributions made by graduate students to further international understanding.