Wake Up Call with Robb Holloway and Bill Lundun
Newsradio 1120 KPNW


Robb Holloway: Say hello to Danielle Uhlhorn, the Chief Development Officer with the Eugene Family YMCA. She joins us on the Wake Up Call. Danielle, welcome back!

Danielle: Good morning. Thank you so much for having me back.

Robb: We're playing the birthday song from the Beatles. Is it your birthday today?

Danielle: No, but it is the Eugene Family YMCA’s 134th birthday.

Robb: Did you say 134?

Danielle: Yeah.

Robb: Wow! It doesn’t look a day over 108.


Danielle: Our Y was first formed here in Eugene back in 1887 on the UofO campus to welcome students and help them get acquainted with their new community, get jobs, etc.

Robb: That is remarkable. Is that I mean, is it towards the top of the list as far as the oldest YMCA? I know it's not the oldest, but one of them?

Danielle: Yes, it is one of the older ones in the country, absolutely. 

Robb: Very cool. Well, you guys have got a lot of things to talk about and we have some familiar names that are motivating and behind a very cool campaign. So go ahead and talk about what's happening.

Danielle: Sure. Well, you know, our Y over the last handful of years has been working on raising funds to build a new Y at 24th and Hilyard. The new Y would replace the current facility located on Patterson. At about the start of the pandemic, we were blessed with the opportunity from the John E. and Robin Jaqua Fund of Oregon Community Foundation to raise $4 million dollars. For every $3 we raised, they matched with $1 up to $1 million.

We met that goal this last month, thanks to the Wildish family who came in with a $100,000 completion gift.

Robb: We were talking about this off the air: There are photos, retro photos from the 50s where you see family members—names that we all know of. You mentioned the Jaquas and the Papés: names that have been key figures and key families in our community for years. Those photos are amazing.

Danielle: Yeah, thank you. You know, it's pretty incredible when you go through our archives of 100+ years and you see the families who have been involved with the Y committed to ensuring that there's a robust Y in this community to serve families. It's just pretty remarkable. Over the years, I think these families have seen the return on their investment when making a contribution to the Y. And so, when there's an opportunity for us to expand and serve more, they're continuing to support that work. So we're really honored to have them continuing to support the Y.

Robb: Danielle Uhlhorn with the Eugene Family YMCA joining us on the Wake Up Call. So we're shipshape, right? We're ready to break ground next week?

Danielle: Oh, I wish!

Robb: Alas, no. So we kind of talked about the situation before. How far are we from breaking ground and getting things started?

Danielle: Sure. Great question. So we have a couple of pretty significant gifts in the works right now, including working with the state legislators to reauthorize $15 million in state lottery-backed funding. Our CEO, Brian Steffen, is working with the legislators to encourage that reauthorization in the current legislative session. And so once we have the details of that funding finalized, then we'll be able to announce our fundraising progress and announce groundbreaking and opening dates. It's a significant portion of our funding stack, and it plays a critical role and that's being able to move forward and break ground.

That said, we're ready! We finalized the plans a few months ago. We've applied for a building permit and we are ready to move forward once we have the rest of those funds secured.

Robb: Kind of talk about what you've seen as far as the plans and the architecture, at least the idea of the new YMCA compared to where you guys are at now.

Danielle: Sure. Well, the new Y is obviously going to be significantly larger by about 20,000- to 25,000-square-feet larger than our current Y. And there's also going to be a considerable amount of parking available--the lack of parking at our current site has really been a barrier for people being able to come utilize the programs and services.

We’ll have a lot of the same elements that we have in our current Y. We will have a gymnasium, an aquatics center, and a wellness center. But one of the attributes that is going to be new: a vastly expanded wing of youth programming. So we want to make sure that we're creating intentional spaces that are age appropriate for kids. That's going to include some expanded teen programming with STEM equipment and materials, and all of these spaces will be accessible to all the kids.

We're also going to have a community room which will have a teaching kitchen. We understand, because we're committed to health and wellness, that nutrition plays a critical component to someone's health and fitness. I always joke: you can run as many miles as you want, but if you're still eating cheeseburgers and fries every day, you're going to run into some problems. So we're excited to have the teaching kitchen to teach kids and families how to integrate nutritious foods into their lifestyle.

We're also going to have a splash pad for the little kids in the aquatics center, which is a critical tool for that early introduction to water safety. And the list goes on and on. It's going to be a remarkable facility, which is, you know, really our tool for addressing youth development and fighting disease and loneliness and all of these challenges that many in our community face.

Robb: Nobody scripted out a pandemic that would put aside for a year now running. You just must be going crazy. Everyone over there can't wait to get this thing going and get it finalized?

Danielle: Definitely. Like most, the impacts to the Y have been significant. And our staff has worked tirelessly this last year to pivot and shift and really do whatever it took to modify our programs so that we were operating safely and under the Governor's orders and state guidelines, but also just to be there for these families.

We were impacted because with the schools closed, those were the locations where we operated most of our child care. So before the pandemic: 23 schools, 750 kids a day. We were limited but it was important for us to be there for those families. So we continued to operate child care, shifting from 3 hours a day to 10 hours a day and grateful for many supporters in the community, like the Oregon Community Foundation and others to help us continue to operate so that when someone called us or showed up, we were able to help them regardless of any financial barriers they were experiencing.

Robb: She is the Chief Development Officer, Danielle with the YMCA. And if anybody wants to get more information or help out, check out the website. Also maybe encourage their members of their legislature to kind of give a little help out for the YMCA so we can get another community resource out there for everybody.

Danielle: Thank you so much, Robb.

April 22, 2021