Durbin Receives Update From YMCA of Rock River Valley on Plans for Youth Center Following $750,000 Earmark

ROCKFORD – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today visited the YMCA of Rock River Valley to discuss the $750,000 in federal funding he and U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) secured through Congressionally Directed Spending—commonly known as an earmark—in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 omnibus appropriations bill to renovate the old Lutheran Church of Good Shepherd to house a Youth Center. This funding will allow the YMCA to refurbish and expand the space, including a recreational space and a remodeled kitchen, contributing to their efforts to fight against child hunger. Activities at the Youth Center will focus on hunger, mental health, and college and career readiness. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the issues children and families face,” said Durbin. “This makes the work the YMCA does for Illinois all the more critical. With the help of this federal investment, the YMCA will be able to bolster its work to address childhood hunger, mental health, and college and career readiness. I’ll keep making sure they have the support they need to continue giving back to our communities.”  

“When our children have the tools to grow, their potential is boundless,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “I'm proud to have worked with my colleague Senator Dick Durbin in securing $750,000 for the YMCA of Rock River Valley to build a Youth Center to break the cycle of poverty and support families throughout Rockford.”

“I appreciate the outstanding work of Brent and his staff at the YMCA. They are bringing critical youth services to the Lutheran Church of Good Shepherd where it will be incredibly impactful,” says Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. “I want to thank Senator Dick Durbin and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos for once again ensuring Rockford has the federal resources we need to create initiatives that are long lasting and life changing for the our community.”

“The YMCA of Rock River Valley is incredibly grateful to receive this funding in support of our community Y with help from Senator Dick Durbin and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos,” said Brent Pentenburg, CEO, YMCA of Rock River Valley. “The Youth Center project helps us become a more equitable community for everyone, especially our youth and families. As a result of this support, we will renovate the Lutheran Church of Good Shepherd to serve students, youth, and families to create a place for the whole family -- with recreation space, maker spaces, childcare, a remodeled kitchen, and multi-purpose spaces.”

In Illinois, more than 300,000 children (about one in nine children), are food-insecure, which can lead to long-term health consequences. Children and adolescents who experience hunger are 56 percent and 53 percent more likely to have PTSD or severe depression, respectively, than children and adolescents who do not experience hunger; and five times more likely to develop a chronic disease, such as obesity, than children and adolescents who do not experience hunger. 

Last year, Durbin introduced the bipartisan RISE from Trauma Act, which would provide $600 million in annual funding to allow communities to expand access to trauma-informed care and treatment.  Durbin also supported the American Rescue Plan, which decreased hunger in the United States through increased nutrition assistance, Economic Impact Payments, and the Child Tax Credit.

Durbin also introduced the Mentoring to Succeed Act, which would provide federal funds to establish school-based mentoring programs for underserved youth and develop partnerships with local business and community organizations to provide hands-on career training for students. Mentoring is a proven method that leads to positive outcomes for youth, including higher grade point averages, improved mental health, and fewer school discipline referrals.