Reginaldo (Regi) Haslett-Marroquin, originally from Guatemala, works in economic development and is the chief operating officer for the Main Street Project, which is about building a resilient food system to revitalize rural communities.
Do you have a Y personal story?
I had known about the Y for a long time, but I never thought of it as a place you go. As a kid I attended a Y camp. The volunteers probably came from Guatemala City; we lived in the northern rainforest, but the experience stuck. The Y in Guatemala was founded in the mid-sixties before the civil war started; I was not born yet. We did not have a Y anywhere except the capital city. As I think about it, their idea was probably to bring some sort of experience that would make kids feel like kids in the middle of the war. We all gathered at a soccer field. We talked first, they asked questions, some kids cried, but I don’t remember why. We played games; that was something I had never done with children — play, touch, laugh — all those things that children do. We were always careful. The daily drill was that you never knew who was around and their intentions; this was a serious rule. Being with the Y folks somehow made everything feel okay, safe, welcoming, probably the reason those memories have stuck so strongly with me up to now.
Why the Y in Northfield? What inspired you to get involved with the Y?
I like when people come together to do new things, especially when it has to do with supporting the whole family. The idea that we can have a space where whole families can be nourished is just too exciting not to get involved. I know Northfield has a lot of places, but if I want to take the whole family, be with other families, and feel safe and connected all in one place, then we need a place like the Y. That was our case in Minneapolis, as well, despite the many scattered or exclusive facilities.
Who is the Y for and what purpose(s) will it serve?
The Y is for families, and its purpose is to bring them together and support their spirits, their minds and their bodies. It also encourages development in individuals and as a community where families grow along with each other.
How can the Y support families of all backgrounds?
By designing and managing its structures, processes and programming with a full understanding of the different kinds of families that reside in Northfield. Too many times, families who do not feel someone is interested in their participation, whether as a perception or because of interactions, will stay away. Educating hard to reach families about the Y can bridge many of these gaps and help the Y management learn how to be welcoming to everyone.
How can families of all backgrounds support the Y?
It’s about feeling included somehow, even if it is just bringing volunteers to their neighborhoods to organize games with the kids on the street and patios where they are normally play. If a family sees value and understands the process for participating, chances are they will take the next step, but if playing, relaxing, working out, swimming, and being with others is not yet valued and no one is reaching out and educating on these issues, families on this end of the background spectrum will not see the value of supporting the Y.
Why should families give to the Y?
Because what we get back is a whole family wellness and a community commitment to raise healthy families, the key to everything else any community can aspire to be.
Any other thoughts to share?
This is a great organization; I am looking forward to starting my schedule at 5 pm when I leave work and meeting my family at the new building regularly.