Tag: Community

Five Questions with Virginia Kaczmarek, Executive Director, Rochester YMCA

Virginia Kaczmarek, Executive Director, Rochester YMCA

Every day, The Rochester YMCA works side-by-side with its neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.  As Executive Director of the Rochester YMCA, Virginia Kaczmarek knows that lasting personal and social changes comes about when we all work together.

DMC recently chatted with Kaczmarek, a 20-year employee with the YMCA and 5 months in her role as Executive Director of the Rochester YMCA, about some of her priorities and what path brought her to Rochester.

DMC: What path brought you to your current position with the Rochester YMCA?  

Kaczmarek: As a young single mother, the YMCA played an important support role in my life and since those days, I have always wanted to give to others the support I received when I most needed it. My fiancé grew up in Rochester and after spending the last 11 years in Northfield, MN (where we raised the needed funds to open a brand new Y in 2014) it was time for me to move on to a new adventure and challenge.

DMC: What are some of the top priorities for the organization in the coming year?

Kaczmarek: Partnerships, Partnerships, Partnerships.  In today’s world, community impact is most powerful when people, groups, organizations and businesses come together to meet the needs of our community.  

DMC: What do you feel sets Rochester apart from other cities?

Kaczmarek:  It is an amazing ”big/small town” with so many amazing people working together to make a positive impact on those around us.  There isn’t much complacency here and I love that.

DMC: Why is the Destination Medical Center initiative so important to the future of Rochester?

Kaczmarek:  The DMC initiative provides amazing opportunities for growth and the YMCA is very proud to work together to make good things happen in our community.  

DMC: What advice would you give to someone thinking about building a life, starting a career, and/or raising a family in America’s City for Health?

Kaczmarek: Reach out and ask questions. Connect with your neighbors.  There is an abundance of important opportunities to connect and share in the movement towards ensuring we all have a healthy opportunity to grow and thrive.

 

Rochester International Airport debuts “OuRSTory” documentary

In Rochester, Minnesota there are seemingly endless ways to give back to the community. But Rochester resident Michele Nelson took volunteerism a step further when she and her family opened their home to two families from Mongolia as their infant sons awaited heart surgery at Mayo Clinic.

Nelson works in Delta Global Services at the Rochester International Airport (RST), where she saw firsthand the impact of the Children’s Heart Project, a Samaritan’s Purse initiative in which the group arranges life-saving operations for children from countries lacking the medical expertise or equipment available elsewhere. Now, Nelson and others have become the focus of a new RST-commissioned documentary that chronicles the five-week journey of patients, families, translators, hosts, and medical professionals as they navigate new life-changing experiences.

Five Questions with Dee Sabol, Executive Director of the Diversity Council

Dee Sabol

Diversity is a key component in building a strong, cohesive community. In fact, the more unique perspectives we invite to be part of our community conversations, the more creative and innovative ideas will result.

Dee Sabol stepped into the role of executive director for the Diversity Council in 2015. She is committed to community engagement, equity, and education as she works toward the Diversity Council’s vision of creating “an inclusive and welcome community in which every individual is respected.”

DMC connected with Sabol to gain more insight into the importance of diversity in building America’s City for Health and why the Destination Medical Center (DMC) initiative was an important factor in her return to the Midwest.

Five Questions with John Eischen, Executive Director, Rochester Area Builders

John Eischen

In his role as executive director of the Rochester Area Builders, John Eischen is dedicated to supporting and promoting regional building, construction, and design. He is a Rochester native, an award-winning home brewer (he is the founder of “Golden Child Brewery”), and an advocate for encouraging more young people to pursue the viable and lucrative career opportunities that exist in the building industry.

DMC reached out to Eischen to learn more about the purpose of the Rochester Area Builders and the impact he is already seeing DMC make in Rochester.

Active transportation and its community benefits

What makes a city great? According to Gil Penalosa, a great city is one that is livable and safe – both for an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old.

Gil Penalosa

Penalosa is the founder of internationally known nonprofit 8-80 Cities and the chair of the board of World Urban Parks. The world-renowned urbanist advises communities on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for everyone – regardless of age, gender, or social, economic, or ethnic background.

The pioneer of the “Open Streets” movement, Penalosa has led the development of over 200 parks and worked in over 300 cities worldwide. He concentrates on design, use of parks and streets as public spaces, and sustainable mobility via bike, foot, car, and public transit and is passionate about building cities for all people.

A collaborative commitment to housing affordability

As growth and development continue throughout the Rochester area, local leaders are making housing affordability a top priority for 2018.

A new collaborative community initiative was announced on Thursday, December 21, 2017 at a press conference at the Rochester Area Foundation (RAF) where more than 40 community leaders and residents came together to learn more about this important effort.

From left: Randy Staver, City of Rochester; Jeff Bolton, Mayo Clinic; Jennifer Woodford, Rochester Area Foundation; Ken Brown, Olmsted County

The Coalition for Rochester Area Housing will bring together public and private sector organizations to acquire, invest, manage, and distribute funds and resources to create and preserve affordable and workforce-priced housing. The group will be led by the Rochester Area Foundation and supported by founding partners from the City of Rochester, Olmsted County, and Mayo Clinic. The group will rely on the community to bring forward ideas and proposals and will leverage local expertise to identify and address gaps in today’s housing market and use resources efficiently.

Boys & Girls Club puts new twist on workforce training

The world is changing fast. As technologies evolve, innovations emerge, and current models of education and employment shift, how do we ensure our youth are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow?

The Boys & Girls Club of Rochester is taking a new approach to job skills development for Rochester youth with the opening of a new downtown ice cream shop. The Chocolate Twist will occupy the main floor of the Paine Furniture building, which is prominently located in the Heart of the City. The shop will not only offer personal and professional development opportunities for teens, it will also create an additional revenue stream for the Boys & Girls Club.