By: HANNAH BROADBENT, Lake Voice Kid’s Club at the downtown Duluth YMCA is large and filled with light from the windowed walls. There is colorful, squishy furniture and play kitchens. There are also plenty of volunteers and workers that want nothing more, than happy children and better than that, happy parents.
Kid’s Club is for YMCA members or community guests. They allow children four months to nine months old to attend. Parents can drop off their children for up to two hours and go for a run, lift weights or just relax.
“I remember a mom bringing her kids in for an uninterrupted shower,” the Volunteer and Internship Coordinator, Gina Miller said.
All volunteers go through an application and interview process as well as background checks. The process ends with a volunteer orientation. Volunteers can start as young as 13 years-old.
A lot of volunteers at Kid’s Club come from Trillium Services. Trillium Services provides supported living services, residential services and supported employment in the Duluth Area according to their website.
“It (volunteering) provides job skills before going and getting other jobs,” Miller said. “Otherwise, it’s just a stress reliever to let loose and hold babies.”
These two volunteers at Kid’s Club do it for the love of children.
Dustin, or Dusty, and Kate both have physical challenges and love volunteering there because they love spending time with the kids. Dusty has been working there for three years and Kate, one year and two months.
Dusty said his favorite part of volunteering there is getting to play tag in the gym with the kids. After saying his favorite part was “nothing” with a smile on his face and a hearty laugh to follow.
Kate’s favorite part is a little calmer than tag. Reading to the kids and feeding the babies are her favorite things though every kid is her favorite.
That’s not all they love about Kid’s Club, though. Kate said a huge benefit of being there is she feels accepted by the kids and the people that work there. She said she works with good people.
“They make a difference,” Miller said. “Being a non-profit, we couldn’t run without volunteers.”
It’s not just the YMCA that relies on the volunteers, it’s also the parents. Once a month or twice a month, Kid’s Club has “Parent’s Time Out” 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Kid’s Club will take 4 month-olds to 12 year-olds feed them, take them swimming (5+), arts and crafts, gym games and end the evening with a kid-friendly movie.
“We rely on volunteers for parent’s night out,” Youth Development Coordinator Kayla Forschen said. “We have 53 kids scheduled.”
The most recent Parent’s Time Out’s were Nov. 21 and Dec. 4.
Forschen has been working at the YMCA for six years. She oversees the staff and creates crafts for the kids.
“Child interaction is the best part for the volunteers,” Forschen said.
The volunteers do the art projects with the kids, participate in gym time, color and free play with the kids. In any given shift, they can have 50 to 60 volunteers. Kid’s Club is open twice a day, seven days a week. Check out the Duluth YMCA’s Kid’s Club website for more information.