Chippewa Valley Youth Club works to provide youth with a safe place for activity – Montevideo American News

Jessica Stolen-Jacobson Editor

About 15 years ago, a group of community members formed a committee to explore the idea of ​​providing an after-school program for parents who need a safe place for their children to spend time weren’t old enough to be home alone yet. The program first started as a branch of the Boys and Girls Club, but after a few years it was determined that the cost of membership was too high, and so the group morphed into what is now Chippewa Valley. Youth Club.

Initially, the organization was in the basement of Trinity Lutheran Church, operating there for a few years, before purchasing the building it is in today, known as the Old Building. of the armory. “There was a need for a youth center, and this became available. The group decided to apply for a grant from the Southwest Initiative Foundation,” says program director Dolly Lyngen.

After moving into the building, a few years passed with the after school program, when the committee decided to work on a fundraising initiative to add more programming to the lineup to provide even more business opportunities for young people in the city.

Today, the Chippewa Valley Youth Club Board of Directors offers a variety of activities. The Nonprofit Advisory Board consists of seven members, four of whom are original members who still serve on the board today. “They really spent a lot of time making this possible for families and children,” Lyngen says.

The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the ability of programs to offer activities, which has made it difficult for the Youth Club, but they are working to bring all programs back, organize to better network in the community to to make people aware of what they should do. actively offers and seeks volunteers. Lyngen joined the Chippewa Valley Youth Club as the only paid staff member at the time of the pandemic, using the downtime to be able to organize the office and plan marketing, while building connections and relationships with entities in the city such as the school district, and community education.

“I was born and raised in Montevideo, I’ve lived here all my life. I worked in the school district for 23 years and before I was approached for this position, I had no idea it existed,” says Lyngen. His goal is to partner with more organizations and publicize in every way possible all the programs the Chippewa Valley Youth Club has to offer.

“Little by little, with the changes in the community, I think we are starting to get closer. It’s for the kids in the community,” she says. “We have to serve them so they have a good baseline when they grow up.”

After the upheaval caused by the pandemic, the Chippewa Valley Youth Club hopes to fully revitalize the summer program in May and the club’s after-school program this fall. Activities that have been done in these programs in the past have included visits with seniors at area assisted living facilities, theater visits, swimming pool visits, and smaller activities that teach independence.

“I really like to focus on the activities of daily living. We do outdoor activities, we play games and I listen to what the children want. We have a short group time and talk about what we’re going to do all day, and I like that it’s posted so the kids know their schedules and don’t have too much down time,” says -she.

They are also looking for volunteers, hoping that people recognize that they can volunteer as young as 14 and that volunteering has benefits such as references for resumes.

“There is a need for childcare, but it also comes at a cost. As we are a non-profit organization, we are very dependent on volunteers and over the years it has become very difficult to find them,” says Lyngen.

Volunteers can help with after-school programming, which offers indoor-outdoor activities, snacks, and STEM activities. In addition, the summer program includes a variety of activities, with breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. It is also possible to follow a part-time summer program, even with the aim of keeping the children home alone less often. Volunteers can also help with the roller skating evenings which take place from September to the end of April on Friday evenings. Kids can take part in a low-cost roller skating event that’s split into age groups, with grade 4 and younger skating from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and all ages skating from 7 p.m. 3 to 9 p.m.

The program releases its first newsletter which the school allowed them to distribute by sending home student backpacks that list available programs, as well as information on gym rentals available for children’s birthday parties, family reunions, church youth groups, 4-H activities, graduations and more.

For more information, visit the Chippewa Valley Youth Club Facebook page where they post upcoming activities and opportunities.