Grand Forks YMCA celebrates 125th anniversaryA Grand Forks organization older than the state of North Dakota celebrated its 125th anniversary Tuesday. The Grand Forks YMCA, rebranded nationally as The Y, held a celebration at its facility for not only its past, but also its future as a partner with Altru Health System.
By: Brandi Jewett, Grand Forks Herald
A Grand Forks organization older than the state of North Dakota celebrated its 125th anniversary Tuesday.
The Grand Forks YMCA, rebranded nationally as The Y, held a celebration at its facility for not only its past, but also its future as a partner with Altru Health System.
Altru donated $1.2 million to the organization in 2010. In return, the Grand Forks Y honored it with its new name, “Altru Y Family Center.”
The name was revealed at the ceremony but remained a mystery a bit longer than expected after a mishap with the paper covering the new sign. But with the help of a ladder, the paper was removed and the sign unveiled.
“This is isn’t just a celebration of the last 125 years,” said Dave Molmen, Altru CEO. “It’s a celebration of the kickoff of the next 125 years.”
The first 125 years were outlined by The Y’s CEO Debbie Thompson. She said that since its establishment, the Grand Forks Y has been home to numerous classes, activities, clubs and community programs. It once housed the town’s only library, a volunteer fire department and typhoid fever patients.
“Our YMCA was also the first in the nation to offer Norwegian classes,” Thompson said.
She said The Y had bounced from location to location before finding a permanent home in 1905. The building cost $40,000 to construct. Its next and current home was built in 1969 and cost $1.2 million. Now, $3.2 million in donations will be used to renovate the facility.
“The successful donation campaign allows this entity to go forward,” said John Staley, director of the Grand Forks Parks District.
City Council member Eliot Glassheim called The Y a community center and said he believes Grand Forks is better because of its existence.
“The city would not be half as good without The Y,” Glassheim said.
To celebrate the renovations, The Y provided a section of brick wall for a wall-breaking ceremony.
Spectators watched as Thompson, Staley, Molmen, Glassheim and Amy Haagenson, chief volunteer officer for the Y, donned goggles and hardhats to each take a turn hitting the wall.
Haagenson was the first to strike. Upon the impact of her hammer, streamers were launched into the air. Molmen was the first to break through, taking aim at an upper corner of the brick wall.
A community picnic followed the ceremony. About 100 people turned out for the festivities, which were moved from the parking lot to the gym because of rain.
Reach Jewett at (701) 787-6736; (800) 477-6572, ext. 736; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.