Heritage Park YMCA the ‘Cheers’ of the North side

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Mature adults should make exercise part of their daily routine, states Heritage Park YMCA Director Henry Crosby. The facility he manages is well positioned to help make this happen for Northside residents.

The Heritage Park YMCA on 4th Avenue North is located inside the Heritage Park Senior Services Center that houses the Augustana Open Circle Adult Day Center and Neighborhood HealthSource clinic services. It has state-of-the-art fitness equipment, an indoor walking track, and dance studios. Courage Center operates a rehabilitation program there as well.

“We’re tucked in this location,” Crosby points out.

Health and wellness is the Heritage Park Y’s overall mission, says Crosby. “We are reaching out to the multicultural community on health and wellness. No one on the North Side of Minneapolis has the depth, breadth, and access to fitness as we have here at this facility.

“You can come and do your workout. We are not a boutique, so you don’t have to have fancy new [gym] clothes. This is not a fashion place. [People] come and socialize…they laugh and they joke.

“I’m calling this the Cheers of the North Side for mature, active adults,” states Crosby.  “What we do is try to help provide a high-quality facility with high-quality staff and high-quality programs that will focus on the needs of that segment of our community.

“I think this part of our community has been perceived as our ‘forgotten part’ of our community — the older adults,” he notes. “We don’t talk about or deal with memory loss in our community. We can do better in dealing with grief. We can do better talking about financial planning.”

Crosby admits, however, that he “struggles” to attract more Blacks — the monthly membership fee is $35, and that includes all center programs. “I’ve learned that affordability and transportation are the biggest issues for us. Another issue for us was that we [Blacks] never knew how to work out — Mom’s big thing was to walk to the store.”

He proudly points to such regulars as Leon Wallace: “That brother is one of the baddest brothers in this town,” says Crosby. “The man catches the 19, gets off over there and walks two and a half blocks over here. Then he works out — he has a little routine.”

Floyd Davis comes from his South Minneapolis home and passes three other YMCAs to get to the Heritage Park Y at least three times a week. “I love the place,” he says.

“The YMCA is committed to urban health and wellness for our active older adults,” says Crosby, who adds he wants to be a “collaborative partner” with other local organizations that serve clients who live in the 55411 and 55412 Zip Codes. He also wants a bus stop placed in front of the building, “because transportation to this facility is still hard for some people.

“I would love to start a conversation with Metro Transit that in its off-peak periods to route the 19 around our pond out there on Van White and create a bus stop,” says Crosby, “so people can come, not only to come to this facility but also to allow family members to come visit clients either here at Thomas T. Feeney or in the public housing facility across the street.

“My goal is that I would love to create a YMCA model that could be replicated around the country that shows the power of collaboration, long-term community planning and development, and serve as an option of preventive health. It’s a low risk but high reward,” concludes Crosby.  “I want the community to know that we are here.”

For more information, call the Heritage Park YMCA at 612-821-2193.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.