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Meet the Neitzel Family: A True Y Love Story


At the Oshkosh YMCA, we have so much to be thankful for each and every day. So, during November we are shining a light on the Y's positive impact on our community with #30DaysOfThanks.

This week (Nov 1-7)  we are highlighting some of our dedicated members and giving thanks to those who continue to support the Y and make our community a better place.

Meet he Neitzel family. Not only are they dedicated and supportive members, but Brian and Katie actually met while working in our summer Teen Adventure Program.

“Our journey as a YMCA family started when we met while working for the Teen Adventure Summer Program back in 2009. After getting married and welcoming our two beautiful boys into the world, our involvement with the Oshkosh Y only increased. Both our children have attended the downtown childcare program since they were infants and we appreciate the caring and dedicated staff that have become a valuable part of our children's lives. We love the variety of programs offered at the Y including the sports leagues and family activities. Our children have enjoyed participating in basketball, football, baseball, and the swimming lessons that are incorporated into the childcare program. When given the option of pausing our membership during the COVID pandemic, we knew we needed to continue to support the YMCA. We appreciate the YMCA staying open and offering programs for safe childcare so parents could continue working while schools were closed. They continue to be a pivotal organization in our community and our family is proud to support their mission now, and for years to come.”

- Brian Neitzel, Katie Neitzel, Brody (7) and Bennett (4)

We are GRATEFUL for the Neitzels and ALL of our community members who continue to support our mission, participate in our programs, and use our Y.

The Oshkosh YMCA relies on financial support from our community to keep our programs and services available to the thousands of youth, families, and individuals we serve. Now more than ever, we need YOUR help. Help us improve lives right here in your community and provide opportunities for individuals and families of all ages and abilities to learn, grow and thrive. Every gift, regardless of size, makes a difference. TOGETHER we can do more. 

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT and donate to the Oshkosh Y! Donations are accepted via mail, in person or online HERE!

We are forever thankful. Donate today, for a better us.

#30DaysOfThanks #ForeverThankful #ForABetterUs

Floyd & Linda Gogolin: Strong and Determined Seniors

If there is one thing that most people can agree upon, it is that 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for all of us, but especially for our senior population.

At the Oshkosh Y, serving and engaging seniors, and providing opportunities to stay connected has always been at the core of what we do. With our doors closed though, this became difficult and provided new challenges for our senior “Y family” like social isolation, stress, and loneliness. Although the Y responded to the changing times and community needs in transformative ways, providing virtual content and opportunities, and adapting to serve ALL of our community – there was something missing.

Reopening our doors meant MORE than just unlocking and letting our members back into our facilities. It meant welcoming them back with a smile (from 6 feet away, of course), to a place where they felt safe, welcome, and home. Since reopening our doors, our community has embraced coming back and Oshkosh Y and senior members, Floyd (84) and Linda Gogolin (78), will tell you – it’s good to be back!

Floyd and Linda joined the YMCA in Beaver Dam just over 8 years ago. Two years later they moved to Oshkosh to be closer to their daughter, son-in-law and their three grandsons. Upon moving to Oshkosh, they transferred their membership to the Oshkosh Y and joined Trinity Lutheran church to find a sense of community.

The Y quickly became part of Floyd and Linda’s daily routine and our staff loves knowing that every day, mid-day, we can count on Floyd and Linda to come through our doors with a warm smile. Although their smiles are hidden by masks, their friendly greetings as they scan in warms our hearts, and the feelings are mutual. “The people at the front desk, they are so friendly every time we scan our card. They have a sense of humor too,” says Floyd. “We feel safe here, and very welcome.”

Linda and Floyd love to use one of our more popular machines, the NuStep. With some spinal and balance issues and older age, Floyd has found it difficult to exercise. The NuStep bike has been a wonderful option for him and Linda both. Linda has some arthritis in her knees and coming to the Y and using the NuStep with Floyd has helped immensely.

One thing we love about the Gogolins is that they are dedicated and work together as a team. “We do everything together,” says Floyd. “With Linda being the youngster, she is the motivator. We come every day. Even weekends!”

Although they just see coming to the Y as part of their “normal” routine – we see strength and determination and are inspired by them daily.

During this pandemic, the Gogolins missed coming to the Y. They tried to stay active by walking around the house and enjoyed getting phone calls from their two daughters and daily “smile of the day” facetime videos from their grandson. The calls and videos were nice, but Floyd and Linda were grateful to return to the Y as soon as it opened. “We’ve made friends at the Y and our church,” said Linda. “We also like to watch everyone else around us (at the Y), they stay active and fit. It’s motivating,” adds Floyd.

As our community braces through the ebbs and flows of the rapidly changing environments, we feel blessed and honored to be able to continue to safely serve our entire community, and like Linda and Floyd, we look forward to showing up daily and inspiring everyone, from youth to seniors, to grow in body, mind and spirit.  


A Letter From Our CEO, Jeff Schneider

In December 2019, I was honored to be chosen by our Board of Directors to succeed Tom Blaze as CEO.  Tom successfully guided our YMCA through 17 years of tremendous growth and community impact.  It was a pleasure to serve alongside him during such an exciting time.  I am fully dedicated to continuing the direction that Tom set forth, leading the Oshkosh YMCA into the future.

Y staff and volunteers are humbled by the many stories we hear about how our Y is making a difference.  Whether we are helping veterans cope with physical and mental effects of war through the Beyond Limits program, improving the daily life of someone diagnosed with Parkinson’s as a result of Rock Steady Boxing, teaching a child critically important water safety, or providing a family in financial need necessary child care, be assured our Y fulfills our mission right here in Oshkosh every day.

2019 was another strong and active year for the Oshkosh Y.  We served 29,390 unduplicated individuals.  Members made over 658,000 visits to our facilities.  In addition, we welcomed over 300,000 community visits to our 20th Ave facility for program, sports and special events.  Below you can view our 2019 Annual Report that highlights the number of people we impact through the hundreds of programs and services we offer.  I am extremely proud of the broad reach of our Y - not only in Oshkosh, but throughout the region.  Every visit and program registration provide opportunities for us to nurture the potential of individuals, to improve the health and well-being of families and provide ways for people to get involved and give back.

The foundation of our Y is very strong.  The strength in our Y lies with talented staff, dedicated volunteers, committed donors and members, and a focused mission - a foundation we will nurture and sustain for years to come.  We will continue to seek meaningful opportunities for our staff to grow and develop, for our volunteers to get involved and for our donors to support our mission and impact.   Our Oshkosh YMCA will continue to advance, innovate and be a leading Y in our state for all the ways in which we encourage our members and our community to grow in spirit, mind and body.
I am truly excited for a successful and meaningful 2020.
Happy New Year and thank you for being involved with our Y!
Jeff Schneider,

A Final Farewell to Healthy Oshkosh

It is with mixed emotion that I write today’s column, as this will be my last time writing a weekly Healthy Oshkosh article.  In 2013, I began writing this weekly column as a way to bring the Oshkosh YMCA and the community together through health and wellness.  Being a kinesiologist and journalist by degree, it was a great way for me to bring my two passions together and to help others in the process.

My daughter asked me the other night how many articles I had written through this endeavor and it caused me to stop and reflect on the writings I had done.  My rough estimate is that over 280 articles were written, a wide variety of topics were covered, over 100 interviews were conducted, and through it all, I learned more than I could ever have hoped for. I hope you did as well.

As I write my last article, I want to include my vision that I used in my very first column -  I hope every week you felt inspired and felt like I brought the pillars of healthy learning to your home and family.  Many topics were discussed such as exercise, nutrition, active aging, children and exercise and employee wellness to name a few.  I hope they offered you information that was new and exciting and I loved hearing how these topics have made a difference in your life. As a parent, I certainly understand how hard it can be for today’s average family to find time for exercise, stress management, healthy eating and recreational fun. I believe as a community, we can all find a little time in our day to implement these important foundations. 

So, as I begin to cross this week’s column off my “to do” list, I hope it has encouraged you, even in a small way, to begin to think about your health and wellness and making Oshkosh a wonderful place for people of all ages to live an active lifestyle.  Until the next time, be healthy, Oshkosh!

Body Positivity: A Healthy Mind and Body

Healthy relationships with our bodies and food are important factors to our overall health. Often individuals will have a negative self-image because they strive to have the body of the model, athlete, or actor that they see on television. In order to put a stop to the comparison, it is important to know what a positive body image is and how to achieve it. Be cautious of social media, remember that comparison isn’t realistic and social media can be the main platform for you to engage in comparing yourself. Always remember how far doing something nice for you can go – take time to relax, go for a walk, read a book. Whatever makes you happy deserves time in your routine.
Equally as important as maintaining a positive body image is your physical health. Today we consume so many processed foods and mindlessly eat without considering what we are actually putting into our bodies. Eating healthy does not have to be hard or painful. Following a few simple rules can put you on the path to success:
  • Stress fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk products.
  • Include lean meats, poultry and fish – as well as beans, eggs, and nuts.
  • Incorporate foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.
A healthy diet doesn’t have to be restrictive. Are you in love with pizza or do you always crave donuts? You don’t have to give up your comfort foods completely, just be aware and eat them less often and try smaller amounts. Take it one step at a time and you will have no problem keeping a positive body image and maintaining a healthy diet!
The National Eating Disorder Association recommends the following steps to Positive Body Image:
  1. Appreciate all that your body can do.  Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams.  Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you—running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
  2. Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like.  Read your list often.  Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.
  3. Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin deep.  When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel.  Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
  4. Look at yourself as a whole person.  When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts.  See yourself as you want others to see you–as a whole person.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people.  It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
  6. Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person.  You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones.  The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you. 
  7. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body.  Work with your body, not against it.
  8. Become a critical viewer of social and media messages.  Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body.  Protest these messages:  write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message
  9. Do something nice for yourself--something that lets your body know you appreciate it.  Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, find a peaceful place outside to relax.
Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others.  Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.

Healthy New Year's Resolutions

As you change your calendar from December to January, there’s always a bit of a thrill in the promise of a new year that’s full of potential. The New Year is chance to start fresh and say goodbye to any of the frustrations the previous year held—a perfect opportunity to make resolutions that will help strengthen one’s spirit, mind and body.

However, many of us find our resolutions thrown out along with the holiday decorations. It’s no wonder—starting the New Year by making sweeping cuts to our diets and declarations that we’ll hit the gym seven days a week doesn’t exactly set us up for success! But by reframing resolutions and breaking them down into smaller, easy-to-sustain goals you’ll see big benefits in the long run.

Here are five New Year’s resolutions I am recommending for you in 2018:
  1. Move More: It’s important for children to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day (30 minutes for adults). Incorporate physical activity into your daily routines and spend more time walking to places instead of driving to improve your health and well-being.
  1. Swap a Soda a Day: It may be difficult, but cutting soda can do wonders for your body. If you can’t cut it entirely, resolve to swap one soda a day for a large glass of water instead. Once you’ve been able to swap one out, see if you can cut soda entirely.
  1. Schedule Family-Time: With work, school, and activities family-time may seem like an impossible ask, but see if your family can have a “screen-free” night with no phones, video games, etc. Instead, use that time to play a board game, play outside or visit with family and friends.
  1. Volunteer Your Time: Giving back and supporting neighbors can benefit everyone involved. Not only is it a personally rewarding experience to help others in need, but it’s also a way to meet new people or discover an interest. Find an opportunity in your community, such as reading to children at the library or distributing food at a local food bank.
  1. Put Extras to Good Use: Do you have extra canned goods or clothes that could benefit others in need? Clean out your pantry, closet or attic and donate extra items to homeless shelters or community outreach programs.
Wishing you a blessed holiday season and happy, healthy New Year!

Health Benefits of Walking on a Daily Basis

Walking is one of the easiest ways to get exercise and stay healthy. The main attraction of walking is its simplicity. It’s easy, it’s fun, you can do it by yourself or with a friend (your dog can join you), and it’s a great way to get exercise. If done a regular basis, walking can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, lower total cholesterol, raise healthy HDL cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. Walking also helps maintain healthy bones and muscles, stabilize blood sugar, improve immunity, and reduce stress. Walking can also decrease back pain and boost energy levels.

The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research states, “Walking at least half an hour, six days a week, can cut mortality rates from heart disease in half.”  If you are just beginning an exercise program, take if slow, and gradually build up time, distance, pace, and intensity.

Walking is simple and astonishingly powerful.  It continues to be proven study after study that sneaking in a few minutes a day can transform your health, body, and mind. 

Here is how walking affects every part of your body:
  • Brain: Just two hours of walking a week can reduce your risk of stroke by 30 percent.
  • Memory: Forty minutes, three times per week, protects the brain region associated with planning and memory.
  • Mood: Thirty minutes a day can reduce symptoms of depression by 36 percent.
  • Health: Logging 3,500 steps per day lowers your risk of diabetes by 29 percent.
  • Longevity: Seventy-five minutes a week of brisk walking can add almost two years to your life.
  • Weight: A daily one-hour walk can cut your risk of obesity in half.
  • Heart: Thirty to 60 minutes most days of the week drastically lowers your risk of heart disease.
  • Bones: Four hours per week can reduce the risk of hip fractures by up to 43 percent.
Here is an example to get you started, keep building each week.
  • Week 1: Walk slowly for 5 minutes, walk briskly for 5 minutes, walk slowly for 5 minutes for a total of 15 minutes of walking.
  • Week 2: Walk slowly for 5 minutes, walk briskly for 8 minutes, walk slowly for 5 minutes for a total of 18 minutes of walking.
  • Week 3: Walk slowly for 5 minutes, walk briskly for 11 minutes, walk slowly for 5 minutes for a total of 21 minutes of walking.
  • Week 4: Walk slowly for 5 minutes, walk briskly for 14 minutes, walk slowly for 5 minutes for a total of 24 minutes of walking.
  • Week 5: Walk slowly for 5 minutes, walk briskly for 17 minutes, walk slowly for 5 minutes for a total of 27 minutes of walking.
  • Week 6: Walk slowly for 5 minutes, walk briskly for 20 minutes, walk slowly for 5 minutes for a total of 30 minutes of walking.
  • Week 7: Walk slowly for 5 minutes, walk briskly for 23 minutes, walk slowly for 5 minutes for a total of 33 minutes of walking.
  • Week 8: Walk slowly for 5 minutes, walk briskly for 26 minutes, walk slowly for 5 minutes for a total of 36 minutes of walking.
  • Week 9: Walk slowly for 5 minutes, walk briskly for 30 minutes, walk slowly for 5 minutes for a total of 40 minutes of walking.
As with any exercise program, consult your doctor before starting.  Be sure to have the proper fitting shoes for your activity. Set realistic goals for yourself.  Find a friend to walk with. Support is very important and it makes the activity more enjoyable. 


Plan a Vacation and Reduce Stress

Vacations make people happier, healthier and more productive, as cited by the Framingham Heart Study.  Yet on average, American workers who receive paid time off only use about half of it. Only one-fourth of us use all the vacation time we’ve earned, according to a survey collected by Harris Interactive. The survey also revealed that most of us – 61 percent – have worked while on vacation. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, this strong work ethic may in fact shorten our lives. Taking a vacation helps reduce stress; high levels of stress raise the risk of heart attack and stroke, weaken the immune system and lead to weight gain.

Taking time off also boosts productivity. According to Oxford Economics, before traveling, we have a burst of energy as we wrap up projects. Upon return, we’re more productive. Getting away helps people get a fresh perspective. We return feeling refreshed with an improved attitude.

Not all vacations are refreshing or stress reducing. Traveling with children has its set of challenges, and relationship issues do not travel well. Long lines at airports or failed hotel reservations don’t help either. It’s important to plan ahead, control what you can, so setbacks don’t ruin your trip. Much of the pleasure in taking a vacation comes in the planning. I recent study of Dutch vacationers shows that looking forward to a trip boosts happiness for eight weeks – and that’s before leaving home! The same study found that post-trip happiness lasted two weeks at the most. However, a study done in Applied Research in Quality of Life read that compared to those who don’t take a vacation, those who do are happier.

According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 44 percent of people check their work messages while on vacation.  While staying connected may help us feel less nervous about being away, one-third of those surveyed feel the technology increases our workload and makes it difficult to stop thinking about work. To truly get away on your vacation, leave your laptop at home and turn off email notifications on your smartphone.

Studies also suggest that you can spread vacation happiness by taking a few shorter trips throughout the year rather than one long one. Don’t forget to consider travel time. A long flight with several connections can use up precious vacation days. Be sure to factor in time to recover from jet lag or road fatigue. When you return, try to take an extra day at home before going back to work to ease back into your routine.

If you are traveling with others, talk about what everyone wants from the trip. If it’s a family trip, get everyone’s input before committing to a plan. Take into account ages and personalities. Younger kids may have trouble adjusting to a lot of different settings. Teenagers may want more adventure and independence.

Remember planning the trip is part of the fun!  Hopefully, you’ll feel a little less stressed just thinking about that wonderful vacation!

Holiday Stress Management Tips

While the holiday season can bring joy and excitement, it can also be a time filled with increased social and family obligations, unrealistic expectations and overspending.

This mix of ingredients may sound more like a recipe for disaster instead of being the “most wonderful time of the year.” No wonder many of us feel overwhelmed, stressed out and possibly even a bit depressed during the hectic holiday season.

Many people suffer from the “holiday blues” and with good reason. It’s an emotionally charged time of year, filled with grand, yet unattainable expectations.

Stress levels often rise as holidays draw near. With all of the shopping, parties, planning, decorating and rushing around we do, it’s no wonder we feel stressed out.

Here are some practical holiday stress management tips to consider.

• Set realistic limits and budget your time, as well as your money. Realize that, despite our best intentions, not everything can or will be Norman Rockwell “perfect.”
• Plan ahead. If an annual holiday tradition you’ve done in the past no longer fits your needs or lifestyle, please say “no, thank you.”
• Be sure to delegate responsibilities to others. For example, instead of being stressed out by planning, cooking and serving large holiday meals by yourself, plan a casual event where everyone brings a dish to share.
• It’s common during the holiday season for people to want to gather and celebrate with friends and family. Unfortunately, the temptation may be to drink too much alcohol. Limit alcohol consumption and remember that it’s okay if you don’t feel like celebrating this year.
• Don’t overspend on holiday gifts. Instead of assuming a heavy holiday debt, consider giving gifts from the heart (this could involve giving of your time or talents after the holiday season), rather than overspending on material things that people may not need or even want.
• It’s also important to prioritize your self-care routines during the holiday season. Reserve some personal time to relax and unwind, and be sure to include stress reducers such as exercise or meditation.

This time of year can be especially hard on anyone who has experienced a change of family status during the past year. Death, divorce, or moving away from family can substantially add to feelings of sadness and loneliness around the holidays.

The holidays cannot prevent sadness or loneliness from occurring. Anyone experiencing these emotions needs to realize that personal loss naturally brings about feelings of sadness and grief. Don’t expect the holidays to be the time that will cure all of your problems.
Sometimes the best way to handle our own sadness is to reach out to others who are suffering. Volunteering at a church or community organization to help those less fortunate during this holiday season can lift the spirits of all parties involved.
Finally, consider starting one new holiday tradition this year — something that excites you — remembering that simple things are often the best and turn out to be the most memorable.

Holiday Toys and Safe Gifts Awareness

December is safe toys and safe gifts awareness month.  Choosing safe toys and gifts for the children and your life can be a difficult task, as there are so many to choose from. Toys are supposed to be fun, however every year thousands of children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries. Choking is particularly a large risk for children under the age of three, as they tend to put objects in their mouth.

The United States Consumer and Product Safety Commission (CPSC) closely monitors and regulates toys.  Any toy that is made in – or imported to – the United States must comply with CPSC standards.  Manufacturers must also follow certain guidelines for toys within specific age groups; however still the most important thing parents can do is supervise play.

KidsHealth.org has some general guidelines to keep in mind while shopping for toys this holiday season:
  • Toys made of fabric should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Stuffed toys should be washable.
  • Painted toys should be covered with lead-free paint.
  • Art materials should say nontoxic.
  • Crayons and paint should say ASTM D-4236 on the package, which means they’ve been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
Be cautious of old toys and those handed down from friends and family members.  They may have sentimental value, but may not meet the current standards for health and safety. 

When buying toys for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, keep the following in mind: toys should be large enough so they can’t be swallowed or lodged in the windpipe; avoid marbles, coins, balls and games that are 1.75 inches or less; battery operated toys should have battery cases with secure screws; make sure toys are strong enough to withstand chewing; riding toys should include safety harnesses and straps and be secure enough to prevent tipping; and check stuffed animals for loose parts or sharp edges.

If you are purchasing gifts for a grade schooler, consider the following recommendations: encourage your children to wear helmets and other safety gear like hand, wrist and shin guards when using bicycles, scooters, skateboards and inline skates; nets should be well constructed so they don’t become strangulation hazards; toy darts or arrows should have suction cups at the ends, not hard points; toy guns should not look like real weapons; and electric toys should be labeled UL to signify they have met safety standards set by Underwriters Laboratories.

Dangerous objects such as fireworks, matches, sharp scissors and balloons should not be given to a child to use as a toy.

Keeping toys safe at home is also very important.  Parents should consider teaching children how to put toys away after they are finished using them, parents should examine the toys regularly for broken parts, throw away broken toys or repair them immediately, and store outdoor toys in a location where they are safe from rain or snow to avoid rust developing on the toy.

Consumers can check the CPSC website for up-to-date information about toy recalls or call the hotline to report a toy you believe is unsafe at 1-800-638-CPSC.  Keep your kids safe this holiday season by choosing toys that are healthy and safe.
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