Decades of Responding to Community Needs

Fitness class participants in a gymnasium

Sturgeon Bay, WI –  As our community slowly emerges from the pandemic, the new normal in the world and our community looks different. The Door County YMCA has taken the time to evaluate what they learned over the last 17 months and has a new vision for how to better serve the community in the future.  

“Over the past year with the pandemic, we have without a doubt understood the need for an expansion here at the Sturgeon Bay Program Center,” says Heidi Erickson, CEO. “When schools were closed – and even as they opened up again – we provided meals and snacks to children to help families stretch their grocery budget. And as our Y was able to safely reopen, we moved some of our equipment to make space for social distancing, but that took away some of our important youth and senior programming space. To address this space issue, we moved fitness classes outside for as many months as possible. As more people feel comfortable returning to the Y, we realize the increased demand and need for not just  physical activity, but also for social engagement opportunities.”

Since opening its doors in 1986, the Door County YMCA has listened to the community, offering the programs, and services individuals and families in the area need. As the years progressed and membership increased, the current Sturgeon Bay Program Center was established in 1997.  Today, historically high membership and participation numbers are stretching current program spaces, limiting the organization’s ability to provide the innovative programs our community needs. 

“It has become increasingly apparent over the past 24 years – and especially the last 17 months - that the current facility must evolve to meet the needs of our community today and well into the future. Recognizing these needs, we are re-imagining and revitalizing our Heart of the Community capital plans for our Sturgeon Bay Program Center. Our vision is to create purposeful spaces to provide an environment that allows our community to grow, connect, and thrive,”, says Capital Campaign Chair and former CEO of the Y, Tom Beerntsen. 

We are looking to expand our Social areas for our members and guests. A new social lounge will provide a board room and community meeting space. 

A new Wellness Center will be added, creating more space for both cardio and strength training equipment, ensuring accessibility for individuals with diverse abilities and our growing senior population. 

A new Y Activity Center (YAC) will allow us to improve and expand program spaces to accommodate our growing population and offer innovative programs that improve health and well-being. This space will house Summer Camp and after school programming. Additionally, this space will offer flexibility for fitness classes and educational activities.

The proposed renovations to our Sturgeon Bay Program Center will create a modern, vibrant gathering place for all, providing wellness, recreation and chronic disease prevention for all those who live, work and visit Door County. It will serve as the heart of the community, connecting families, seniors, and people from all walks of life who gather here. 

With a history of experience and commitment to our community, the Sturgeon Bay Program Center is well positioned to impact the lives of the people we serve and the place we call home. 

Together, we can create a future in which more adults and families are proactively taking care of their health, all children are nurtured and cared for, and neighbors know that this is a community to which they belong.


The Door County YMCA: For Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. Driven by its founding mission, the Door County YMCA has 170 full and part-time staff serving over 7,200 members in Door County from facilities in Fish Creek and Sturgeon Bay in a broad range of programming for all ages. The Y empowers everyone, no matter who they are or where they’re from, by ensuring access to resources, relationships and opportunities for all to learn, grow and thrive. By bringing together people from different backgrounds, perspectives, and generations, the Y’s goal is to improve overall health and well-being, ignite youth empowerment and demonstrate the importance of connections in and across 10,000 communities nationwide.

Category: News