DUNELAND FAMILY YMCA
MISSION STATEMENT: The Duneland Family YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.
The Duneland Family YMCA is pleased to announce the purchase of the Chesterton Montessori School building and property, which will become the new home of the Forchetti Family YMCA Center for Early Learning. “This is an incredibly exciting time for the Duneland Family YMCA, and for the children and families of the Duneland communities. It’s an opportunity to increase the quality of our care while doubling our capacity to serve children ages 6 weeks to 5 years. The YMCA provides a safe, nurturing environment while promoting each individual child’s social, emotional, physical and intellectual development,” said Dave Kasarda, Y CEO. The new Early Learning site is located in a picturesque setting where nature abounds. Large, expansive outdoor spaces provide classroom settings without walls, plentiful age-appropriate playgrounds and field space for sports. The building includes large classrooms with floor to ceiling windows, a large multipurpose space, cafeteria space inside and out and much more.
Jim and Terry Cavallo built, owned and operated the Montessori School for 36 years. Terry Cavallo shared, “Jim and I have been in education for nearly five decades; it’s been part of our whole lives. We believe the early education for each and every child is the best gift that we could give them. We are sad to be closing this chapter of our lives working directly with children, but we feel confident that the staff of the Duneland YMCA Early Learning Academy will use our former building to carry on early learning for even more children in the Duneland communities for years to come, and we know that our teachers will carry on Montessori education in a different location under the care of a new owner.”
Much more than simple day care, the Y’s Early Learning Academy is the best of what research and common sense tell us kids need: healthy beginnings; positive interaction with caring adults; age appropriate learning activities; and plenty of time for fun and making friends. “At the Y, helping kids and families thrive is at the heart of our mission to serve,” said Shannon Spratley, Y Chief Operating Officer. “This acquisition will allow not only program growth, but also a means to upgrade educational ratings. Our involvement with Paths to QUALITYTM means we are committed to providing a safe, nurturing and professional environment where children can grow and learn.” Presently, the Early Learning Academy is operating as a level 3 Paths to QUALITYTM Registered Ministry. When the Early Learning Academy moves to its new home it will become an Indiana State Licensed Center and continue working towards a Level 4 PTQ rating and National Accreditation, the State’s highest rating. Paths to QUALITYTM is an exciting statewide quality rating and improvement system designed to provide the children of Indiana brighter futures through better child care. The PTQ rating system is one of the ways the State lets the public know about the high quality education and care children receive at the Early Learning Academy.
The Duneland Family YMCA Board of Directors has spent the last three years researching the needs of the Duneland communities. A feasibility study that was conducted in 2018 clearly indicated that leaders of the Duneland communities place a huge value on high quality, safe early childhood education representing a clear indication that it was imperative that the Y Early Learning Academy find a permanent home to continue their important work. For the last 16 years the Duneland YMCA has been honored to share joint vision and partnership with the Duneland School Corporation to provide a high quality education for all children under the age of five without the generosity and partnership of the DSC, the YMCA would not have been able to serve thousands of children.
During the feasibility study last year, John and Linnea Forchetti expressed a compelling interest providing all children of the Duneland communities an equal opportunity to have access to a safe, high quality, affordable environment to meet their developmental needs. The Forchetti’s have always been very supportive of the Y. John served on the Y Board of Directors. Their kids participated in Y swimming lessons at the first Y and later enjoyed the outdoor pool at the present location. “The Duneland Family YMCA is an important facet of the community,” John said. “It’s always been a place where people can gather, and a safe place for Duneland children to learn, grow and thrive. We know that early childhood education is the key to success in life, and we’re happy to be able to contribute to the new location for the Y Early Learning Academy. We want our gift to benefit community families.” Linnea pointed out that many families and single parents often struggle to provide high quality early childhood education for their children. “That’s where the Y steps in,” she said. “At the Y Early Learning Academy, all children have access to early childhood education in a safe, nurturing environment.”
“Without a commitment to the community and a willingness to share resources, a landmark purchase like this would never be available without the generosity of individuals like John and Linnea,” said Dave Kasarda. “The Duneland Family YMCA and the families of the Duneland communities will be forever grateful for the generous support of the Forchetti family.”
The Y has been serving the Duneland communities for more than fifty years focusing on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility to enrich lives and make Y programs and services available to ALL. They’ve partnered with local and regional organizations to provide better outcomes for youth, families and seniors in Duneland. The Board of Directors and leadership of the Y would like to thank the Duneland School Corporation, the Forchetti Family, past and present parents and program participants and, Jim and Terry Cavallo for supporting its efforts.