Harbor Country Community Center
We are a local Nonprofit Organization - 501(c)3 dedicated to bringing a Community Center to our region of Southwest Michigan. Our journey started over four years ago, but the idea of a Community Center in our area has been around for over a decade. Jim Fox was a large part of this project’s history. He had served on the Pokagon Fund Board and was extremely generous with his donations over the years towards recreational trails and land conservation. He had even offered a significant donation amount to kick-off the project, but he unfortunately passed away prior to seeing the Community Center come to fruition.
In the Spring of 2018, Janet Cocciarelli (Former Executive Director of the Pokagon Fund) and John Krsul (a former Pokagon Fund interim Executive Director and Special Liaison to the Board, who sadly passed away in June 2020) called a small meeting together between the YMCA of Greater Michiana representatives and Community Stakeholders. St. Mary’s Church and School in New Buffalo was looking for options for what to do with their school building and it was here where the vision of the Project began to take shape.
Our Team is an ever-evolving group of Community Members & Stakeholders. We are the Movers, the Shakers, and the Doers.
If this sounds like you, we'd love to have you be a part of our Team!
Our Team is led by Katie Maroney, MS, NASM-CPT, CHC, who owns and operates Equilibrium Fitness in New Buffalo & Three Oaks, Michigan. Katie is also the Administrative Assistant at her family's restaurant, Redamak's, in New Buffalo, Michigan. Katie is originally from New Buffalo, Michigan and grew up playing a variety of sports in the region. Katie earned a DI Scholarship to Ohio State University for Ice Hockey, and earned her Masters in Exercise Science in 2010. She has since coached hockey for various ages throughout the Midwest, has been a Free Agent with a couple Women's Professional Hockey Leagues, she teaches many Classes and works with Clients at Equilibrium Fitness, and has served on several local Boards and Committees in Southwest Michigan: New Buffalo Business Association, Friends of Harbor Country Trails - which is now Friends of Berrien County Trails, the Marquette Greenway Advisory Group, the New Buffalo Waterfront Master Plan Committee, and the Harbor Country Chamber Economic Committee.
Katie returned to her hometown in 2013 and opened, Equilibrium Fitness, an independent 24 Hour Gym, the very first of its kind in the region. Equilibrium Fitness expanded to Three Oaks in 2018. Katie's boyfriend, Jordan McGuire, has family ties to Three Oaks. Jordan's parents, Lon & Joan, owned and operated McGuire's Pub from 1985-1998 in Three Oaks. Jordan teaches Classes and works with Clients at Equilibrium Fitness as well.
In 2018 Katie was nominated by The Pokagon Fund to attend the Leadership Accelerator Academy through Michigan's Great Southwest Strategic Leadership Council. In the fall of 2018, The Pokagon Fund was selected for a Rural Economic Development Cohort by the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) and the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) and conducted the Harbor Country Community Needs Assessment, which identified the following four areas of need in our Communities: Affordable Housing, Broadband Internet, a Community Center, & Jobs.
From the 2018 Harbor Country Community Needs Assessment Report - See Link Below:
Community Center: Many people alluded to the need for a year-round opportunity for folks of all ages to play and exercise and learn together in one facility. It could be the Harbor Country version of a YMCA especially tailored to Harbor Country. Seeking partnerships, resources and creating a plan for such a facility would also demand collaboration across municipalities.
The 2018 Community Needs Assessment had Four Focus Groups: Municipal Leaders/Officials, Business Owners and Economic Development Professionals, Service Providers and Education Representatives, and Pastors. According to the representatives from CMF and CEDAM these meetings had some of the highest participation that they had seen to date compared with similar cohorts! It was shortly after these Meetings and Presentations that the then Pokagon Fund Director, Janet Cocciarelli, nominated Katie Maroney as the Community Center - Community Leader. Katie and the YMCA of Greater Michiana sprang into action: Forming Committees with area Leaders, Residents, and Stakeholders, organizing and hosting many meetings, giving presentations to local groups, and were just shy of committing to a space and implementing programs prior to COVID-19.
This project has faced it's fair share of delays and challenges as we all have endured these last few years, but we are still striving forward because we believe in this project and its dire need in our area. We are conducting a Community Survey specifically for a Community Center here in our region of Southwest Michigan. We have partnered with Abonmarche to complete an Assessment & Feasibility Study that will help us evaluate existing and/or identify potential sites for a facility of this nature and what types of amenities and programming is needed/desired in our region.
St. Mary's School in New Buffalo will remain as one of the potential sites for evaluation during the Assessment & Feasibility Study and we want to sincerely thank St. Mary's Church and their Parish for their continued support. We also want to thank the YMCA of Greater Michiana and their entire Leadership Team for their steadfast Community Partnership over the last four years, and to Abonmarche for conducting the Survey, Assessment, and Feasibility Study.
Stay tuned for more news and announcements by subscribing to our Newsletters.
The first phase of this project is strictly for Information Gathering & Community Engagement.
We invite you to fill out the Survey, which will be open through Labor Day.
Your feedback is greatly appreciated!
Harbor Country Community Center, Inc. - 501(c)3
The Harbor Country Community Center is dedicated to: Uniting & Strengthening our Communities through Health & Wellness.
Our Vision is to: Create and Cultivate a Safe Space for All Ages to Learn, Grow, and Share Together.
We intend to help address Community Needs in order to strengthen relationships between residents, visitors, municipalities, and organizations.
We envision that this facility will transcend its walls and will utilize existing parks and facilities for additional programming and activities.
And we hope that this project will be a beacon and a catalyst for future opportunities, growth, and collaborations within our region.
Wellness - Health, Fitness, Mental Health Programs
Diversity - Equity & Inclusion
Education - Life Skills, Culture, & Arts for All Ages
Unity - Residents, Visitors, & Organizations
Support - Childcare, Family Friendly, & Workforce Resources
Recreation - Activities, Events, & Sports for All Ages
Sustainability - Environmental, Economic, & Social
We represent many communities here in Southwest Michigan. We look forward to establishing and developing connections within these communities and organizations to help address any of their needs and to fill any gaps in programs or activities through future collaborations.
Michiana, Grand Beach, New Buffalo, Three Oaks, Galien, New Troy, Union Pier, Lakeside, Harbert, Sawyer, Bridgman, Baroda
School Districts: New Buffalo, River Valley, & Bridgman
Early June through Labor Day 2022 - Survey Open
Fall 2022 - Survey Results, Steering Committee Meetings, & Community Engagement
Fall - Winter 2022 - Site Evaluations, Feasibility Study with Abonmarche, & Site Selection
2023 - Fundraising & Introduction of Programs
A Community Partner is any person or organization willing to dedicate their Time, Energy, or Resources to the completion of this Project. We thank you for your time & willingness to help. We'd love to connect!