Our History

History of the Itasca County Family YMCA

In the late 1970’s the Grand Rapids Ministerial Association identified a need in the Itasca County area for a community center to serve residents of all ages with a sports and fitness facility, senior programs, family and child-centered programs and a community-gathering place for activities and enjoyment. It was determined that a YMCA in Grand Rapids would best meet this need, and the Itasca County Family YMCA was founded in 1979.

In order to meet the needs for building such a center, the Blandin Foundation contributed $3.2 million and a community fund drive was organized which raised over $600,000 toward the creation of the Itasca County Family YMCA. Six hundred volunteers were recruited to help with the organization, building and opening of the Itasca County Family YMCA. The building opened in December of 1981.

The YMCA is nationally chartered with an elected board of directors. This local board sets strategic direction and employs staff to develop membership and programs to achieve goals related to the mission and vision of the organization. The mission of the Itasca County Family YMCA is to strengthen ourselves, families and communities by promoting growth in spirit, mind and body.

The Itasca County Family YMCA has been providing service in the areas of: childcare, aquatics, youth programming, family programming, senior programming and health and fitness programs since 1981. We have been open to change to effectively meet the needs of our community, and we have formed strong collaborations and partnerships with many local affiliations.

In 1994, with the site funding from the Blandin Foundation, the Itasca County Family YMCA was remodeled, refurbished, and updated. The updating encouraged substantial growth in both membership and participation.

Membership and building usage continued to increase and in 1998, the Itasca County Family YMCA completed a feasibility study to expand the facility. The results from the study indicated that the organization move forward with expansion plans and a capital campaign began. The Blandin Foundation granted the Y $2.2 million with the challenge to raise an additional $1million within the community. The goal was achieved and the newly expanded facility held its grand opening in January of 2002. Over 15,000 square feet were added to the YMCA facility and an additional 16,000 square feet were renovated. The project added a new health and fitness center, aerobic studio, family center, family locker room and maintenance area. Renovations included expanding the pool deck and adding a large family whirlpool, adding a new membership service desk and moving the lobby to the north side of the building. The kitchen was renovated and the administrative offices were moved and expanded.

In 2008, with the help of a grant from the Mardag Foundation, the YMCA re-roofed the older sections of the facility.

In 2010, a master facility plan and utility audit were completed. The results indicated a need to update the facility HVAC systems, add program space and partner with other entities to provide services for the Itasca Area. A feasibility study was completed in 2012; partnerships were formed with ElderCircle, the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital, and a capital campaign to create a collaborative wellness campus began. A lead gift of $1.25 million from the Blandin Foundation was the start for a campaign which raised over $5 million.

In June of 2015, a grand “re-opening” was held. The project included a new parking lot, 14,250 square feet of new construction and 12,579 square feet of renovated space. The Y campus now houses:

ElderCircle offices and programs

On-site healthcare clinic

Multi-generational space for education, recreation, socialization and wellness

Adult day stay service

Coffee bar

New Kid Zone space (our childcare for members who are working out)

Space for school-age childcare to be moved on-site

Remodeled Youth Center

New weight room

Two new group fitness studios

Updated fitness equipment

Updated heating and ventilation systems

Pump house with a heat transfer system to capture the heat from the UPM Blandin paper company’s waste water to heat the domestic hot water.

The Itasca County Family YMCA serves people of all faiths, races, ages, abilities and incomes; no one is turned away due to an inability to pay. Over 1500 individuals come through the doors on a typical weekday. The new campus will help us on our mission to strengthen ourselves, families, and communities by promoting growth in spirit, mind and body.