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La Porte County Family YMCA Childcare Center to Transition to Wendy’s Learning Tree

Contact: Dawn Zigler
President of the Board – La Porte County Family YMCA DZigler@meridiantitle.com

La Porte County YMCA Childcare to Transition to Wendy’s Learning Tree
La Porte, IN (September 18, 2023): The La Porte County Family YMCA is pleased to announce that it will transition its childcare services to the Learning Tree Academy on October 2nd. The Learning Tree Academy is a leading provider of early childhood education with a mission to use educational and child developmental knowledge to create a safe and playful environment that sets the foundation to nurture each individual child’s creative learning abilities, support educational standards, and meet social and emotional demands.
“We are confident that the Learning Tree Academy is the best choice for our community,” said Frank Frey, Interim CEO of the La Porte County Family YMCA. “The Learning Tree Academy has a proven track record of providing high-quality early childhood education, and we are excited to work with them to continue our mission of providing all children with the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Wendy Jenkins, President of the Learning Tree Academy, will work closely with the LaPorte Community School Corporation to ensure that all children at the childcare and preschool are prepared and ready for kindergarten. The childcare will also be working with a mentor/coach from SPARK (Speak to the Potential, Ability, and Resilience Inside Every Kid) to help each child thrive.
“We are committed to providing a high-quality education for all children,” said Wendy Jenkins, President of the Learning Tree Academy. “We are excited to work with the La Porte County Family YMCA and the LaPorte community to create a seamless transition for families and children.”
“We believe that early childhood education is the foundation for a child’s future success,” said Jenkins. “We are committed to providing children with the best possible start in life.”
The Learning Tree Academy has eight locations serving Valparaiso, IN, and surrounding communities. The new La Porte location will be located at 2510 Monroe St. in La Porte. For more information, please visit www.learningtreeacademy1.com.

La Porte County Family YMCA launches feasibility study campaign to explore the impact a new YMCA could bring to the Michigan City Community

La Porte County Family YMCA Raises $90,000 for Scholarship through Special Events

September 11, 2023

The La Porte County Family YMCA hosted it’s two major fundraising events this Summer, raising over $90,000 for the Y’s Caring for Community Scholarship Fund.

In July, the La Porte County Family YMCA hosted it’s second annual Celebrity Golf Outing, which brought together community members for a fun day on the course while supporting a great cause. Twenty three teams registered to play alongside 13 celebrity guests in this one-of-a-kind event. With the help of local businesses who sponsored and supported the event, along with the support of Val & Cliff Levingston, the event was a huge success.

“The first year everything was brand new, and we really didn’t know what to expect. Now that we’ve been through it, the planning and preparation was much smoother this time. We were able to control our expenses more, and increased our sponsorship revenue significantly thanks to our new Community Engagement Coordinator Jenni Alexander. We performed a very in-depth cost analysis to identify areas where we can save further in the future. The more money we are able to raise, the more we’re able to impact our community through scholarships” said Jessica Durham, Director of Marketing & Special Events.

The La Porte County Family YMCA continued their efforts through the Summer, the Tour de La Porte the last weekend in August. This is the YMCA’s third year hosting the event, previously hosted by the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte. The event spans across two days, offering a half marathon, 5k run/walk, 5-100 mile cycling routes, and a brand new 1.5 mile family fun run/walk. In total, the event had 820 participants for the weekend, and raised over $66,000.00. “Our sponsors not only support the event through their donations, but a lot of them get involved through volunteering as well. We’re really blessed by all the amazing sponsors and community partners that are involved to make this event successful” said Durham.

This year’s top event sponsors included Northwest Health, Larson Danielson Construction Company, Howmet Aerospace and NIPSCO. For more information on the YMCA’s Scholarship Fund, please visit www.lpymca.org/financial-assistance/

La Porte County Family YMCA Announces Change In Leadership

September 5, 2023


La Porte – In a joint statement from the La Porte County Family YMCA Board of Directors and CEO, Laurie A. Halaska, an announcement was made that shared Halaska is stepping down from her position, effective September 9th.

Halaska reflects on her time at the La Porte County Family YMCA, stating “ I have been honored to be a representative for our La Porte County YMCA. My passion for the Y’s mission combined with the legacy and support of our Y has made the past five years a true gift” Halaska Stated. “This was a very difficult decision for me; however, I have other pursuits which require my commitment and I believe it is good timing for the organization to bring in a change of leadership as the Y looks toward the future.”

“I will continue to assist in any way that I can to move the organization forward and will work to help those who continue to serve our YMCA’s 114-year mission. I am truly blessed to have witnessed the many lives that have been positively impacted by the work of our YMCA. Most importantly to me, I’m truly honored to have had the opportunity to serve alongside our Y staff, who are truly dedicated to the Y’s Mission, are second to none.”

Dawn Zigler, YMCA Board President, stated “From my volunteer perspective and the fact that I have worked with Laurie for the past five years, Laurie has truly embraced the core values of our YMCA: honesty, caring, respect and responsibility. I credit Laurie for advancing the work of the YMCA in many significant ways during her time with the Y.”

Halaska is credited with growing the organization’s membership by 20% in the last 5 years, as members of our community seek a path to a healthier lifestyle. Most near and dear to her heart, Halaska reflects on the brand-new programs that were launched under her leadership.

“Last year, we started the Free Swim-Lesson Program, which provides fourth grade students the unique opportunity to receive formal swim lessons and water safety instruction at the Y. In our lakefront communities, we identified this as a critical need to reduce youth drownings and build confidence in our children” stated Halaska. What made the program even more unique was that each student received a free swimsuit, goggles, towel, and swim bag. The overall goal being to remove any barriers that may prohibit these students from the physical and social benefits that the program provides. The program has now been expanded to serve schools in both La Porte and Michigan City, with further expansion planned.

Most recently, the La Porte County Family YMCA expanded its 11-week Summer Day Camp to serve Michigan City residents at our Elston Branch. “Through this program, like all the others we offer, we impact the lives of dozens of children and families who may not have the financial resources to provide their child with a safe, wholesome experience outside the home. All of our programs, from wellness, sports, camp, aquatics, or special events have grown exponentially and have impacted hundreds of lives throughout La Porte County which is all attributed to the hard work of our YMCA team” said Halaska.

That’s quite a legacy to leave behind, and as the YMCA looks toward the future, they will fondly look back at the foundation that Halaska helped build.

Zigler noted, “We are utilizing the support of the YMCA’s national office to assist in conducting a national search for our next CEO. To provide ample time to vet potential candidates, we have engaged an interim director that will serve in Laurie’s absence until a new CEO has been secured.”