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Our History & Mission

Our Mission

The mission of the JAM Center is to celebrate and strengthen our vibrant community by connecting people and organizations through activities that improve the quality of life for the greater Garrett area. Within this mission we focus on strengthening families, promoting wellness, and developing partnerships. The JAM Center is more than being about families...we are family! We are committed to making a difference in the lives we touch. We do this inclusively...uniquely delivering hope, direction, empowerment, and support bundled in a healthy mix of wellness, education, and fun!

The History of JAM

Water Tower

JAM Center traces its roots back to the 1980s when a cohort of young teenagers caused disturbances in downtown Garrett, prompting a community-wide call for intervention. Sue Blotkamp spearheaded an alternative initiative to establish a space where these teens could channel their energy into more constructive and creative endeavors. After extensive research and dedicated efforts, Sue, along with a committed group of individuals, successfully founded the Garrett Community Center in 1997. After establishing a board of directors, the organization began operations from a modest storefront in downtown Garrett, watching closely as the dream of JAM came to life.


Shortly after the induction of the Garrett Community Center, new programs emerged to address community needs. Among these initiatives was "Moms and Babes," a support group for teenage mothers and their children, as well as "TEAM" programming, which focused on activities and support for young children. With the expansion of these programs, the board quickly realized that the biggest issue was space - they needed a new facility to work from. The group forged a collaborative partnership with the Dekko Foundation, which not only helped to clarify the goals and mission of the Garrett Community Center, but also helped to establish a plan for how to accomplish them.

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Despite a multitude of naysayers, after years of research, fundraising, and hard work, Sue and her team of dedicated adults and volunteers were finally able to secure funding as well as a donation of land to construct the new Garrett Community Center building on Houston Street. There was one final roadblock - it became clear that despite the intensity of the dream and the willingness of the dreamers, the new community center would not be able to exist without some help. This is where the YMCA came in - through their partnership with the Garrett Community Center, the program at the new building would finally be able to get off the ground.

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Groundbreaking took place on an unseasonably cold October day in 2004. One year later, the Garrett Community Center held its grand opening, providing the YMCA with an incredible opportunity to promote childcare, youth programs, teen programs, and other activities that were aimed at helping the community. The center was able to help hundreds of families in the area, providing a place where people of all ages could come together to focus on healthy relationships, social support, and their own physical and mental well-being.

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In December of 2010, the Garrett Community Center Board of Directors realized that they may be able to better serve the community by operating independently. In January of 2011, and after over $1.3 million in donations from Mrs. Morrill, the newly designed Judy A Morrill Recreation Center reopened its doors. JAM Center began operating as a standalone daycare and Pre-K schooling provider for a community that desperately needed childcare. Operating with Sue Blotkamp and Amy Truesdell as Interim Directors, the organization was able to expand and work towards creating new programs for youth, teens, and seniors in the area.

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Over 20 years after Sue’s initial ideas of a community center, the dream had finally come true. Sue and the Board of Directors began searching high and low for a new Executive Director that would fully enact the values of the organization and dedicate themselves to the mission of JAM. After months of searching, they were finally answered with the perfect choice - Cheryl Nicole, a brilliant woman who has spent her entire career working in the nonprofit sector. Cheryl had gained invaluable experience and leadership skills throughout her career that made her the perfect fit for the role and would help the organization to thrive. Since her beginning at JAM Center, she has worked tirelessly in promoting the empowerment of individuals, breaking negative cycles, and making a true difference in the community, the very facets of the organization.

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Since Cheryl’s induction at JAM Center in 2011, a litany of positive changes, new programs, and employee growth have taken place. Programs developed under Cheryl’s leadership include the Impact program, partnerships with Dekalb Health, summertime enrichment camp programs for kids, the growth and transition of JAMEE (Our early education program), the creation of I14 and the Collaborative programs with GKB, the induction of JAM into the Silver Sneakers program, and many more.

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Over the years, JAM Center has built its way into a transformational and family-focused institution that strives to be a force of positive change in our community. Our wellness programs enable members of any age to make their physical health a priority, and our top-of-the-line facility provides an excellent place to workout and exercise that’s close to home. Our JAM Early Education provides the community with an incredible childcare center, promoting a respectful, kind, and caring environment in which children can thrive. Our continued partnership with G-K-B schools gives JAM Center the opportunity to impact the lives of children through elementary school, and our incredible Youth Department promotes a safe environment in which youth and teens can come together to socialize, make new friends, and find support and encouragement as they grow. JAM Center has been able to expand to serve people of all ages - from infant children and youth to senior citizens - providing a place to focus on health, wellbeing, and positive change. We are proud to provide these services and hope that you’ll join us in our mission of strengthening our community and Making A Difference!

JAM Timeline
The Spark Ignites

Sue Blotkamp and a dedicated group of local leaders become the spark behind the fire at JAM Center, recognizing that area children and teens need a place to talk, socialize, and spend their energy.

JAM Center Begins

A Board of Directors is established and the Garrett Community Center is created.

Programs Begin

The hard-working staff at the Garrett Community Center begin offering the Moms and Babes Program for single mothers, as well as the TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) Program for children. The group works from a small building in downtown Garrett.

Grant from The Dekko Foundation

A grant is provided by The Dekko Foundation for a market analysis - constructing a new building would be possible, but the Garrett Community Center will need a partner to get off the ground.

Phase One

Bernard Brennan donates $500,000 to start the momentum for the center. The Cole Foundation and the Garrett Eagles each give $200,000, and a matching grant of $620,000 is made by The Dekko Foundation. Judith Clark Morrill and the Eaton Corporation each donate $100,000, with additional funds being raised by the community to reach the phase one goal for construction of the new building.


October 16th - On an unseasonably cold Fall afternoon, groundbreaking for the new building is held.

Grand Opening

A parade from the small downtown office to the newly constructed building is held on October 29th, kicking off the Grand Opening of the Garrett Community Center, titled the "Garrett Family YMCA". The new building houses a preschool and daycare area, a weight room, and other fitness activities. The YMCA begins operations, offering a variety of programming and classes for local youth.

Phase Two

In the Spring of 2007, Judith Clark Morrill donates $1,000,000 to build the center's pool. After completion, the YMCA begins offering swim classes, aquatic fitness activities, and open swimming sessions.

Change of Direction

Leaders at both the YMCA and the Garrett Community Center reach a mutual agreement, the lease of the building is ended, and operations are fully turned over to the Garrett Community Center.

A New Name

After her generous donations of over $1.3 million dollars, the Garrett Community Center proudly begin operations as the Judy A Morrill Recreation Center. A Grand Reopening is held to celebrate the new name and status, with Sue Blotkamp and Amy Truesdell serving as interim directors.

Childcare Returns

Childcare and preschool begin again, providing a great service for a community in need. Children have a dedicated section within the building, as well as supervised and scheduled access to the gym and a large outdoor playground.

A New Director

The Board of Directors find Cheryl Nicole, an incredible woman with a spanning career in non-profit organizations, to become the new Executive Director of JAM Center.

New Programs

A variety of different new programming begins at JAM. The Powerful Women series begins, including sessions such as Keeping Yourself Safe, Basic Home Repair, Basic Car Maintenance, and Tool Time. Summer enrichment camp for kids begin with Critter Encounters, Art-A-Palooza, Magnifi-Sentence language studies from across the world, Going Green (a conservation and recycling program), and Lights, Camera, Action, a drama and stage production program. Other programs added include a Health Fair, a new swim club for K-12, and before and after school care programs.

New Grants and Donations

After years of support and investment, Ron and Connie Dicke create a special grant, allowing a dollar-for-dollar match for any new donor to our general operating fund. Through a grant from the DeKalb Health Foundation, funding is provided to purchase four top-of-the-line treadmills for JAM Center's fitness room.

Club JAM

Club JAM opens, offering an afterschool hangout for all Garrett Middle School and Garrett High School students. Activities include snacks, TVs, games, and a specially designed youth room from 3-6 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Planned events include craft nights, open gym times, swims, and holiday parties.


JAM Center becomes an official Healthways SilverSneakers facility, partnering with insurance companies to offer fitness and exercise programs for older adults.

Continued Excellence

JAM continues to host incredible programming for the community, including Chicago bus trips, free days for the community to use the facilities, continued summer camp offerings, Kids Korner, paddling trips, the continuing Club JAM for students and the yearly return of Garrett's "Get Fit" program, women's safety courses, wellness sessions, and various other programs. JAM Center gratefully receives grants from the United Way, The Community Foundation of DeKalb County, and other foundations and generous donors.

21st Century Community Learning Centers Program Grant

The Garrett-Keyser-Butler school district and the Judy A. Morrill Recreation Center receive a $150,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Education. The grant is used to add additional program hours, field trips, and STEM activities, boost staff training, and improve all aspects of programming.

Citizen of the Year

Sue Blotkamp, the woman who made the JAM Center become a reality, is named Citizen of the Year by the Garrett Chamber of Commerce.


JAM Center's childcare program officially becomes JAM Early Education.

Early Education Builds Steam

JAM Early Education earns the Level 3 Paths to Quality title.

Introduction of I14

JAM's after school program has major updates - I14 is created, with a larger classroom space that enables JAM to serve more students. I14 offers homework help, fitness activities, and a variety of engaging social experiences.

Infinity Campaign

The Infinity Campaign is launched, allowing JAM to create a fund that will provide for asset replacement and maintenance needs. The Infinity Fund will also keep operations running at the highest level of performance possible. With donations and fundraising by the community, The Dekko Foundation pledges a $500,000 match donation to the campaign.

The Collaborative

Through a partnership with G-K-B Schools, JAM Center begins offering the Garrett Collaborative Preschool program, which is available to 3 and 4 year old students. The Collaborative provides a safe, nurturing environment for young students, a choice-filled roster of daily activities, and fosters a respectful and kind culture where kids can grow. The program follows the Reggio Emilia philosophy to plan curriculum.

Present Day

JAM Center stands as a community built, designed, and funded effort that continues to provide incredible programming for citizens in every walk of life - children, youth, adults, and seniors. Thanks to the extensive efforts of our community as well as our generous donors, we are able to continue our operations and positively impact the community for years to come.