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:

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: 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 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

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.

Y Student Leaders in the News

Last semester, Y student leaders spoke out against the racial injustices that Black student face on campus by writing a letter in support of the Black students who are fighting to be heard, respected and to end white supremacy on campus. At the “In Love & Solidarity Rally” in December 2015, student leaders read their statement of support (event pictured above) and called for others to join them as they continue to educate themselves and raise their voices to support the Black student body in their demands for fair treatment. University YMCA student groups are planning to reconvene to discuss how to best serve as allies in this critical moment.

Join the Leadership Circle Today

At the Y, we believe a leader lives in all of us. In recognition of the student leaders that have inspired us to do more, we recently founded the Leadership Circle with the goal of reaching 100 Founding Members.

The Leadership Circle is special group that gives monthly so future students can have the same opportunities we all had. It is a truly important initiative that strengthens the connection between past and future leaders and keeps members in the loop with all that is happening at the Y.

Daniel Guico, who graduated in 2013 and was on the Student Board and a leader in Alternative Spring Break, joined the Leadership Circle so he could give back,

“I couldn’t imagine my college life without the University YMCA,” Dan Guico said. “Between bike rides through Champaign-Urbana with SECS to cross country volunteering journeys through ASB, the Y gave me a place to gain experience in cause-driven leadership and unique memories that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I saw the Leadership Circle as a way to give back and to allow more students to have similar transformative experiences.”

Joining is as easy as purchasing a cup of coffee a month. Visit for more information.

Save the Date: For the Health of Community

The 3rd Annual Leaders For Global Change Conference
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Time: 10:00am-2:00pm
University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St, Champaign

The theme of the 3rd Annual Leaders For Global Change Conference centers on developing tomorrow’s global health leaders and on fostering a campus community that works together to tackle global health issues through interdisciplinary problem-solving.

About LGC: The goal of the Leaders for Global Change conference is to highlight global issues and give students the tools they need to address those issues. The conference will have breakout sessions to help develop the skills-sets that members of international organizations need in practice as end with a keynote speaker. By the end of the conference, students will be able to create a strong network between themselves, university units, and RSO’s and help further their mission for bringing sustainable change to the world on different levels.

For more information, including registration, please visit


Meet Daniel Szoke, Fighting Back Against Sexual Assault


Last summer, Daniel Szoke had the opportunity to intern at the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center (Z-Center). Without the Fred S. Bailey Scholarship for Internship award, Daniel wouldn’t have been able pursue the unpaid internship to gain valuable skills in community service and advocacy counseling. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to share an excerpt of Daniel’s reflections on the experiences the internship afforded him.

“The Z-Center taught me about believing, validating, and empowering survivors, and these are methods I have already started implementing in my life. I have realized that people all experience trauma differently, but most everyone has some experience with it. When friends and family talk about their trauma, I respond with my new skills, and it seems to be exactly what they need to hear. If I believe what they tell me, tell them what they are feeling is normal, and refrain from telling them what to do, I see positive results.

I am currently entering into my second semester as a FYCARE facilitator. In the FYCARE program, we teach all first-year students some real life statistics about acquaintance rape, debunk rape myths, and give scenarios to help students imagine how they might properly support a friend who discloses their assault. After gathering input from the Z-Center agency staff, I composed and presented a new draft of the FYCARE script, and my changes were approved. I am now the first student author of a section in the script.

I am proud of this accomplishment because it allowed me to take what I learned at the Z-Center, and bring it back to our campus. I am happy to have served my campus, and I have already started facilitating the new section this semester with positive results.

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I have a clearer career outlook, and I feel more prepared for my future. I want to thank the scholarship team at the YMCA, without the work that you all do, I would not have been able to afford to take this internship. I would not have learned all that I have learned. I would not have grown in the way that I have grown. Thank you for all that you do.”

Each year, the Y’s Fred S. Bailey Scholarship Program for Cause-Driven Leaders awards scholarships to students seeking unpaid internships in public service and advocacy fields. Knowing that community-based internships experiences are unfortunately difficult to fund in the public service sector, the internship award was created to further power the potential of cause-driven individuals.


Hanging out with friends and spending time with faculty are standard events for the majority of students during academic breaks. However, for those involved in the Alternative Seasonal Breaks (ASB) program, break takes on a new meaning.
Alternative Seasonal Breaks is a student-run volunteer organization of the University YMCA. It provides students with the opportunity to serve communities all around the country during fall, winter, spring and summer breaks. Recently, ASB added six new trips for Spring Break 2016. On these trips, students learn about environmental and social justice issues affecting the communities that they are serving.

“Before, environmental issues weren’t that important to me, maybe because I didn’t see them firsthand,” said Lorena Munoz, junior in LAS, who went on a trip last spring. “But working as a team (on this trip) literally opened my eyes to what’s going on.”

Munoz went to the Hidden River in Horse Cave, Kentucky. While on the trip, she and her team worked throughout the day to clean of debris saturating the surrounding and interior of the cave.

Before leaving for the trip, Munoz and her group began learning about the pollution issues while still on campus.

ASB provided weekly meetings, where they discussed current environmental realities about the Hidden River Cave.

Serving locally not only prepares students for their AB trip, but it also provides a platform for students to continue service when they come back to campus.

Since 1989, the Alternative Seasonal Breaks program has been connecting students to the values of community volunteers through service-oriented trips. The program was started by a group of Y student leaders who spent one of their breaks living among Central American refugees living under de facto martial law in Brownsville, Texas.

Twenty-seven years later, the program continues to expand, now offering many service-oriented trips, educating student leaders in global humanities, environmental, and social justice centered causes.

To many students involved in Alternative Seasonal Breaks, it’s not just about the trip. Upon return to campus, students often come back to serve their communities locally and continue to educate themselves about the issues they have learned on their trip.

Sana Singh, senior in LAS and co-director of ASB, said she prides the organization’s emphasis on education. Singh said she was motivated to take on the co-director position because she feld that ASB transformed her. Her experience on ASB trips taught her about alleviating poverty and homelessness, which showed her the power of volunteering.

Students involved in ASB branch out and learn more broadly, serving while gaining leadership skills and meeting new people. ASB continues to be a Y student program that has given many students transformational experiences and invaluable leadership skills that stay with them for a lifetime.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Last chance! RSVP by this Friday to the Y's Dinner & Auction!

Dear Friend,

I want to invite you to join us in celebrating the University YMCA’s lifelong leaders at our 15th Annual Dinner & Auction on April 16 at 5pm. In honor of our 15th anniversary of this amazing event, we will feature a crystal theme, the traditional anniversary gift for 15 years. It is always a lot of fun and a great opportunity to connect with other Y supporters and celebrate the great work of our students and community members. You may purchase tickets using the following link: If you encounter any difficulties in viewing this form, click here.

Below, you will also find program details, including the what's on the menu, silent auction items, what's up for bid at the Live Auction, and available Proxy Bidding. Stay tuned next week as we will also announce the 2016 YMCA Leadership Award winners!

Again, thank you for your support and I hope I get a chance to see you on April 16th!

Mike Doyle
Executive Director
University YMCA-UIUC

The 15th Annual Dinner & Auction

Saturday, April 16, 2016
5:00 pm to 10:00 pm
I-Hotel Conference Center | Illinois Ballroom A
1900 South First Street
(Enter off St. Mary's Northeast Entrance)
Champaign, IL 61820

RSVP online by this Friday April 8:
You may also mail a check to the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St, Champaign. Please make your checks payable to the "University YMCA."

Can't make it to the event? You can still get in on the action
of the Live Auction wherever you may be online! 


The Social Hour and Silent Auction will begin at 5:00 p.m.
Silent Auction items include a brilliant, streamline bike from Neutral Cycle, St. Louis Hotel and Beer Tour Package, Cubs and White Sox Tickets, Dinner on the Prairie Fruits Farm, and More! Be sure to also visit the Wine Raffle and Dine-and-Dash corners for some more Silent Auction excitement.

Check back for regular updates to the Silent Auction here:

Dinner will be served at 6:30pm.
This year, the main course options are, Roasted Vegetable Ravioli with Herbed Cream Sauce & Julienne Vegetables, Roasted Breast of Chicken with Champagne Veloute, and Porcini-Crusted Salmon with Champagne Cream Sauce. There will also be iced tea, coffee, dessert, and free-flowing wine!

The Program and Awards Ceremony begins 7pm. The University YMCA is honored to recognize this year’s award recipients, and we invite you to join us in recognizing their achievements and celebrating our collective work in promoting a life-time of cause-driven leadership in our communities. The Y is pleased to announce the leadership awardees at the end of this week, the week of April 4th, 2016.

Then, at 8pm, get your paddles ready for the Live Auction! Live Auction items up for bid include A Quintessential Ski Resort Experience in Beaver Creek, Colorado; A Chicago Family Vacation Package to Rule Them All; Own An NFL Football Team For A Day with 4 Club level tickets and on-field passes prior to the game; A Taste of Spain Night with tapas, sangria, and paella in the home of Rebecca and Joe Guyette; and A Relaxing Weekend Stay at Snow Mountain Ranch or Estes Park in Colorado.

Check out all of the Live Auction items up for bid at

Support the Y: If you can't make it to the event, you may also support the Y by making your contribution to the University YMCA at

100% of the proceeds will support the University YMCA's programs,
promoting cause-driven leadership development.

More information is available at: