DeAnna Perkins

DeAnna Perkins, Executive Director, Harold Mezile North Community YMCA.

The YMCA located on West Broadway in North Minneapolis, has been a mainstay in the community for over four decades - helping to provide food, fitness, recreation, and congregation to community members, with the goal of continuous growth and improvement.  The Harold Mezile Community YMCA is ever-changing. As the Y continues serve - under new leadership- the development of new programming to fit the needs of members, will be a big part of the mission.

You know the saying, “There’s a new sheriff in town?”

 DeAnna Perkins (formerly Smith), is Harold Mezile North Community YMCA’s new sheriff. As the newly appointed Executive Director, she is eager to continue youth programming and bring the over forty crowd back to the location.

With an education, sports, and a community involvement background going back to her childhood, Perkins told Insight News, “I am really passionate about community, youth work, and bringing the city together through systems of the community. I am grateful to be back at the place that I grew up. I am trying to make sure our children have the same opportunities growing up, that I did in North Minneapolis. My goal is to bring those who grew up participating in our past programs, back to participate in our current programs.”

Perkins, a wife and mother of two, grew up in North Minneapolis, and attended North High School, where she participated in volleyball and swimming., She is known to be an athlete among her peers both at North High School and at the YMCA. So coming back to get this career position is a full circle moment.

Although physical fitness programs are a part of her vision, she said, “We had to shift our focus from just working out, weights, and fitness programs to the holistic approach to health and wellness. We have brought on a therapist to help with trauma, not only within our youth and our members, but also within our team. We want it to be a place for the whole community to feel safe and get heathy.” Maintaining community trust and integrity as well as staying true to the mission of the YMCA are important to Perkins.

With physical and social programming for youth in grades K-12 a consistent focus across decades, the North Community location under Perkins’ leadership, will also provide focused programming for the over 40 population. Forever Well,  is the current program designed for older adults  and includes virtual and in-person activities such as cooking, networking socials, swimming lessons, and acupuncture. Some older adults may qualify for a free membership based on their health insurance provider.

As mental health concerns and lack of arts funding continue to increase across the nation, Perkins wants to adapt programming to fit the needs of the community. Along with therapy options, she is adding more arts programs and a tech center with cricket machines, podcast equipment, sewing, robotics, and music studio equipment that will all be a part of the Mezile Community location in the near future. 

Harold Mezile was a long time mentor, and Executive Director working at YMCA branches in both Misouri and Minnesota. The Harold Mezile North Coummity YMCA is just one of many branches of the YMCA of the North.  Here is how the St. Paul and Minneapolis become one organization and The Harold Mezile Community YMCA was estblished.

•             1844—George Williams organizes the first YMCA in London to meet the practical and spiritual needs of young men relocating to London during the Industrial Revolution.

•             1851—First U.S. YMCA opens in Boston

•             1856—St. Paul YMCA founded

•             1866—Minneapolis YMCA founded

•             1975—The original North Community YMCA opened on West Broadway

•             2009—The Y Center on Broadway Opened

•             2012—Minneapolis and St. Paul YMCAs merge, forming the YMCA of the North

•             2014—The Y Center Renamed to the Harold Mezile North Community YMCA

Partnerships are a part of the growth process for the YMCA. For future projects, Perkins would like to add more partnered programming. She is looking forward to building camps that occur during student academic break times (spring, summer, and holidays). These camps may possibly include biking, dance, art, sewing and other activities.

Setting a positive example for youth by following the positive leadership of older adults is also a goal of Perkins’ team. “We want to be examples of professionalism; developing each other. We want you to come back and hang out with us; Come back and workout with us; Comeback and play ball with us; Come back to the Y. Let’s make the Y what it used to be, for our entire families,” she said.

The location is prime for members to get to. It is on the bus line and right in the heart of the Northside. Whether you are looking for youth programming, fitness and technology for those over 40, or activities for older adults, the Harold Mezile Community YMCA is working to fulfill the needs of the community, while focusing on improving our overall holistic health and wellness.

For more information you can call 612-588-9484. You can also visit the website at https://www.ymcanorth.org/locations/north_community_ymca

Brandi D. Phillips is a freelance writer, mom of two, life partner, and lover of adventure. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach her at wellifethreesixty@gmail.com.

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