YMCA makes great progress in Housing Build in Dupree, SD

The two-story “tiny homes” feature two bedrooms in a loft configuration with a front porch to encourage a tight knit community of support, a key to the YMCA mission “to build strong kids, strong families and strong communities.” An additional foundation (in the foreground) awaits the third home to be erected in May. (Photos courtesy YMCA)

DUPREE – Two new “tiny homes” rise just west of the Dupree water tower, as 162 YMCA volunteers from across the world gathered as part of a new project bringing desperately needed emergency transitional housing to the native community.

In 2021, the historic YMCA of the Seven Council Fires in Dupree submitted a proposal to the national YMCA Alumni Association requesting funding and volunteer support to bring four new homes alongside the current YMCA kitchen and community center in Dupree. This proposal was the only one approved from among 37 proposals from YMCAs across the country.

A nationwide YMCA Alumni campaign raised $812,000 from 620 donors to date – almost all donations from retired YMCA staff in all 50 states. “The effort and outpouring of support have been far beyond our hopes and dreams,” said Andy Corley, CEO of the YMCA in Dupree. “We knew YMCA retirees are passionate and generous. This effort is just at a different level.”

“We are honored to receive this support,” added CEO Corley. “If you know anything about the YMCA through its 170 years of history – when there is a community need, Y people will respond and always come through.”

Construction began in spring 2022, with volunteers spending six weeks laying out the foundations and raising the walls of the first home. Volunteers returned in spring 2023 to finish windows, siding, and painting of the first home while raising the walls of the second home. Volunteers returned for three weeks in September and October 2023 to finish off the exterior of the second home.

The Y hopes for the first of the homes to open in 2024 and all four in the next 24 months. YMCA alumni volunteers return in spring and fall 2024 for five more weeks of labor while the fundraising closes on the goal of $835,000 for the entire project.

Contributions to the project can be mailed to Cindi Koenig, PO Box 725, West Chester, OH 45071 marked National Service Project – or on-line at national-service project.constantcontactsites.com/giving

The YMCA Alumni Association hired local contractors for concrete work and interior framing as well as roofing. “We know there are local workers who bring great skill to our project as well,” said YMCA alumnus and project manager George Painter, a volunteer from Queensbury, New York. “The best folks to put a quality metal roof on our homes are right here in South Dakota and we are proud to hire local experts to put the top on our homes.” Painter also expects to hire local contractors for electrical and plumbing systems as well as drywall installation.

Ultimately, the four tiny homes will be part of a collaborative program identifying local families in crisis and emergency need of housing. The homes will provide safe housing allowing families to transition to more permanent housing once they are stable.

“One of the most important things to provide families in crisis is a sense of safety, stability and a supportive community,” says Corley. “That’s why we have four homes together in a circle – to provide families with a supportive community. This will be such a big lift to all our family and community support programs.”

Painter noted that the four homes are high efficiency by design so the YMCA can Operate them economically. High-efficiency windows, super insulated walls and ceilings, and energy efficient heating systems will help the YMCA keep costs low and minimize maintenance. “We plan to return in 20 years to see these homes much as you see them on our ribbon cutting day,” said Painter.

After the completion of the four tiny homes, the three construction containers at the building site will be converted and transported to various locations to act as “Twigs,” small YMCA branches in outlying communities. Twigs’ locations remove geographic barriers to historically under-served youth and provide easier access year-round to Y programming to help participants learn new skills, develop healthy behaviors, and build positive relationships.

(Contact Grace Terry at grace@angelsabide.com)

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