STANWOOD — Steven Jones has been working out at the new Stanwood-Camano YMCA a few times a week.
It’s busy every time he’s there, especially the pools.
“It’s amazing how many people are using it,” he said Thursday. “It’s just what we wanted.”
Over the last six years, the Floyd and Delores Jones Foundation has donated $10 million toward the construction of the new Y. Steven Jones, 58, is their son. He helped coordinate the foundation’s work with the YMCA of Snohomish County.
The new Y opened Sept. 3 with a celebration that drew nearly 500 people to test out the pools, shoot some hoops, or take part in demonstration dance and workout classes. The building was a $23.2 million project, with $17.2 million from donations and the other $6 million from YMCA financing.
Floyd Jones was one of three cornerstone donors who contributed at least $1 million. The others were Pat and Carrie Richardson and Paul and Melanie Sobotta. More than 300 people total donated to the project.
The $10 million gift from the Floyd and Delores Jones Foundation is one of the largest sums ever given to a nonprofit in Snohomish County. It is one of only a handful of eight-figure donations received nationwide by any YMCA in the organization’s 172-year history, according to the YMCA of Snohomish County.
Floyd Jones, 88, is a well-known Seattle stockbroker and philanthropist. He still works in the investment business, as does Steven Jones.
Floyd and his late wife, Delores Jones, started their foundation in 1986. Delores grew up in East Stanwood and graduated in 1943 from Lincoln High School. She drove a bus for cannery workers and schoolchildren during World War II, graduated from the University of Washington in 1950, and married Floyd in 1953, according to her obituary. She died in 2005 at age 80.
The family has given to numerous causes. There’s a Floyd and Delores Jones Pavilion at Virginia Mason hospital in Seattle and the Floyd and Delores Jones Playhouse at the University of Washington School of Drama. In 2014, Floyd Jones donated $10 million to the the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington to establish the Floyd and Delores Jones Transformational Fund for Justice.
“The Y has been the recipient of an incredible gift,” said Jennifer Willows, vice president of the YMCA of Snohomish County. “For our organization to receive a gift of this magnitude from such a seasoned and well-known philanthropist is flattering, to say the least.”
Floyd Jones was one of 12 children born to a sharecropper. He grew up in Missouri, where he helped pick cotton and other crops, according to biographies from the Virginia Mason Foundation and Seattle City Club, which gave him an award for civic leadership in 2013. Though crops were prioritized over school when he was a child, Jones loved to learn. He joined the U.S. Army and later attended the University of Washington. He made a fortune working in the investment business. He’s quoted as saying that the best training he ever got for becoming a stockbroker was picking cotton because it taught him work ethic and ambition.
The Jones family still owns the farm on Camano Island where Steven Jones’ great-grandparents — Delores’ grandparents — immigrated from Sweden. The Joneses split their time between Seattle and the island.
There had been talk about opening a YMCA or a similar center in Stanwood for some time when Floyd Jones passed by a private gym that had closed down. That was in 2010, his son said.
“He just decided that the time was now to try to get some sort of aquatic center and fitness center,” Steven Jones said. “We just felt that the Y, being all-inclusive and well-managed, was the best choice to consult on this. Then we found that there were like-minded people in the area that felt the same way.”
The new 47,000-square-foot Y has two pools. The Stanwood High School swim team uses them for practice and competition. There is also a basketball court, large workout room, group exercise rooms, child care and a demonstration and teaching kitchen.
“It was overdue that we have some sort of facility to teach kids how to swim,” Steven Jones said. “Kids need to swim for safety reasons, if nothing else. And here we are the gateway to Camano Island, and we had no place to teach kids to swim.”
Through his donation, Floyd Jones wanted to encourage others. Last June, he matched any pledges of $10,000 or more toward the Y dollar-for-dollar. He’s a vocal advocate for giving, no matter what form or how much. Every contribution matters.
“I’ve given away a great deal of money over the last 25, 30 years, but I’m worth more now than I ever was,” Jones said during a speech in 2012 after receiving a service award from the Virginia Mason Foundation. “It does come back. It affects your attitude, it affects your judgment and I have a saying … ‘when you give, you gain.’”
Steven Jones’ hope for the new Y is that it is well-used and well-loved.
“There’s nothing that would make us feel more grateful as far as giving what we have than if people use it,” Steven Jones said. “Engaging in this type of civic giving pays dividends for many years to come. We’re in the investment business, and that to us is a good investment.”
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.