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ESGR in the News


HERMANTOWN, Minn. – ESGR Volunteer Bob Boone presented an Above and Beyond Award to the Duluth Area Family YMCA May 16. This presentation was a result of Minnesota United States Marine Corps Reserve Staff Sgt. Alex Gugala nominating his employer, Duluth Area Family YMCA Chief Operating Officer Jeramy Katchuba, for a Patriot Award back in November of 2023. Jeramy Katchuba along with Emily Ranta (Branch Executive Director – Essentia Wellness Center YMCA) were present to receive the Above and Beyond Award on behalf of Duluth Area Family YMCA.

This award is given in limited numbers by State Committees to employers who have had at least one of their supervisors/managers recognized with a Patriot Award and who have signed an ESGR Statement of Support. This award will be given to only 30 businesses this year, from hundreds of Patriot Award nominations received in Minnesota, that have honored their employees’ service in the United States military by providing assistance or benefits that go beyond the minimum required by the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (USERRA).

Alex had this to say about his employer and supervisor: “I have worked with Jeramy in 2017-2018, first as an intern and then again since 2019 as a program director. I was assigned to multiple extra training and planning events for my unit that were not published ahead of time, including my current deployment, and through all these events Jeramy has helped me prepare for my military time away. He has been nothing but supportive especially with my current deployment. Jeramy not only assisted me in my job, he and other YMCA staff members offered to check on my house, perform yard work, and ensure things were in order when I returned. I could not have asked for a more supportive person and organization to work for. Jeramy kept me connected to YMCA events happening in Duluth so that I could participate in these events remotely. Jeramy and the YMCA staff put together a care package for me which was a wonderful gift while deployed. Without a doubt, Jeramy Katchuba is a great person, community member, and supervisor.”

Alex has recently been promoted to Branch Executive Director for Cook County and now offices out of Grand Maris. His supervisors agreed that this award should be displayed in Alex’s new office in Grand Marais due to the values, leadership and unique skills Alex brings to the YMCA workforce. They both noted that the Duluth Area YMCA has several part time employees that have needed time to attend basic training and/or Advanced Individual training. They have been supportive for these young Reserve Component Service Members just like they have supported Alex.

ESGR Volunteer Bob Boone thanked Jeramy and Emily for their support of Alex and the part time employees who have just started their careers as Reserve Component Service Members. He noted to them that they are truly representative of a positive work environment for Reserve Component Service members.

ESGR is a Department of Defense office that develops and promotes supportive work environments for service members in the National Guard and Reserve through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. ESGR also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers. This year, ESGR celebrates 51 years of excellence in support of the Reserve Components and their civilian employers. For more information about ESGR outreach programs or volunteer opportunities, call (800) 336-4590 or visit
Photo left to right: Jeramy Kathuba, Bob Boone ESGR, Emily Ranta and Staff Sgt. Alex Gugala. (Photo courtesy of Bob Boone)

Posted in: Minnesota
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