Valparaiso YMCA Unveils Its New Pavilion

By: Barbara Jo Adkins Last Updated: August 5, 2011

The unveiling of the new YMCA pavilion opened with Chad Clifford from Front Porch Music and of the band Crawpuppies, singing and playing guitar for the invited guests attending the invitation-only event showing off the new facility.

Providing refreshments was Strongbows of Valparaiso and hors d'oeuvres were provided by The Dish Restaurant of Valparaiso.

The YMCA has built a new facility that will be "used for summer camps" said YMCA Board Member Dean Stolpe"The "Y" programs for summer used to go off-sight. Now with the new pavilion, they can be done right here, like a little campus" Stolpe stated.

Bob Wanek Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA said "the first event held in the new pavilion was by invitation only  for the "Y" donors who donated to the annual campaign or the capital campaign." Wanek thanked all in attendance for their contributions and donations, as well as all board members and YMCA staff for making this possible.

The YMCA pavilion will be made available to the public for rental.  Wanek stated that "The new pavilion will have test groups in the fall so we can get their feedback on the facility, then in the spring the pavilion will be available seven days a week for rental."

Wanek added, "There is a gas hook up for any vendor that would need to set up, seating for up to 250 people, parking for 80 cars, and access to lighting and amplifiers for the stage.

Wanek made mention of the fields that are still covered with hay and grass was still growing in saying, "These fields will be used for soccer fields." Being very proud of the new playground donated, Wanek said "the playground is fenced in so the children and parents can feel safe playing there."

The playground was donated by YMCA Board Member Jacki Groverman Stutzman. Stutzman was in attendance for the unveiling with her niece Laura Blaney along with Laura's husband Ken and their three children Isabel, Roger and Claire.  Watching the children playing, Stutzman said "They inspired me."

Stutzman said "I grew up here in Valpo playing in the Valpo parks. Tower Park was my favorite growing up.  The cost of the pavilion was going up and up and I thought I could step in and do something." Now there is a beautiful playground for children to enjoy.

Also on hand for the unveiling was Thelma Dickey, she and her husband, Max Dickey, were responsible for donating the first property for a YMCA to be built in Valparaiso in 1951 on Chicago Street. Dickey, now in her 90's, said "We believed in the "Y".  My husband was a realtor, and a good one, so we wanted to help them (YMCA) get started. So, we gave them the land for the first YMCA." Dickey said of the new pavilion, "It's such a gorgeous building, Valpo needed it and I am glad they have it."

"The YMCA started here at the Valparaiso University in the late 1890's, then in 1951 with the donation of the land on Chicago St., Porter County had it's first YMCA. Now there are three in Porter County." said Kathy Catania of the YMCA.

Catania added "There is more to do at the "Y" these days than ever before.  Not only is the "Y" a good place to work out, but we teach swimming. That, we feel, makes for a water safe community."

"We have several programs for seniors. One program we have joined forces on, is with A.F.Y.A.P. or Arthritis Foundation YMCA Aquatics Program for seniors with arthritis.  We also have day care for ages 1-12, as well as before and after school services with most schools having bus service."

"The "Y" went through a re-branding process one year ago and not only did the logo change, but it is divided into three focus areas: Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility. We want to show that we are non-profit and cause-driven, showing the community that we want to give back to the community and others can have the opportunity to give back too, by volunteering and providing resources." Catania said.

If you would like to learn more about the YMCA , or make a donation visit

To view pictures of the new pavilion, playground and event, click here!