Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Keystone Community Services welcomes new president

Posted on 08 March 2016 by Calvin

Outgoing president retires after 32 years of service to Keystone


Keystone Community Services 01Eric Nyberg will retire as Keystone Community Services’ chief executive officer on Apr. 1, ending a career that began 32 years ago. “I had my reasons,” he said, “but you might wonder why anyone would stay with an organization that long?”

Photo right: Mary McKeown (left) is the incoming president of Keystone Community Services, and Eric Nyberg (right) is the outgoing. The two have been friends and colleagues for nearly 30 years. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

It seems to be something of a pattern at Keystone. The organization celebrated its 75th birthday last year, and Nyberg has only been the fifth person to serve as president. He explained that “with learning opportunities at every turn, I just never felt the need to leave.”

Nyberg came to his first job at Keystone with a master’s of social work and training as a family counselor. “It was clear to me that healthy individuals had a better chance of establishing healthy families,” he said, “and from there we could work toward building a healthy community.”

Initially hired as a program director, he eventually branched out into fundraising and development.

“One of the things that distinguishes Keystone as a service provider is a dedicated base of 2,000+ donors, and almost as many active volunteers,” Nyberg said. “We also receive excellent support from the Greater Twin Cities United Way, for which we’re very grateful.”

Keystone addresses three areas of community service: basic needs such as food and shelter, activities for youth and critical support for senior citizens. It offers these services at seven sites throughout St. Paul and covers an area that includes half of Ramsey County. Nyberg noted that “engagement is our ultimate goal. If we can help people get engaged in their communities, then we feel we’re succeeding.”

The non-profit organization began in the Merriam Park Community Center in 1939, under the name St. Paul Community Services. It was the end of the Great Depression, and neighbors were worried about kids in the Merriam Park neighborhood. They got together and started a pre-school, which was the first of many youth services to come.

The incoming president, Mary McKeown, is a long time Keystone employee and Merriam Park resident. She was selected by the board of directors to step into Nyberg’s role and brings to the job many years of experience in St. Paul social services. Nyberg added, “Mary really understands the history of this organization, as well as the needs of the community.”

He continued, “the diversity of people Keystone serves reflects current community needs, and the range of services reflects the missions of the organizations that have become part of ours: Capitol Community Services, Neighbor to Neighbor, the Good Neighbor Foundation, Youth Express and West Seventh Community Center.

The organization has gone through a series of mergers over the years, most recently with West Seventh Community Center, a major multi-service center in the West Seventh neighborhood, with programs very similar to Keystone’s senior and after-school programs for youth.

Two years ago Keystone merged with Youth Express at 1128 Selby Ave. Youth Express is a full-service bike shop and youth employment program. They specialize in refurbished bikes, bike repair, and the sale of new and used bike parts. All store proceeds are re-invested back into the Youth Express Program, which currently serves 100+ youth and is expected to grow in 2016.

Shopping at Youth Express is one way to support the work of Keystone. Other opportunities include delivering Meals on Wheels, helping at Keystone’s two food shelves, or becoming a youth program tutor. Consider hosting a collection for food and personal care items at your business, school or faith community, or becoming a Keystone business or congregational partner. For information about any of these volunteer opportunities or to make a donation, email volunteer@keystoneservices.org.

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