YMCA $400,000 short of fundraising goal

EVERETT — Even in this stormy economy, the YMCA of Snohomish County is pushing ahead with its biggest fundraiser of the year.

With nine days left, the campaign is still $400,000 short of reaching its $1 million goal.

YMCA officials are cautiously optimistic about reaching $900,000 before time runs out, said Scott Sadler, chief development officer.

“It’s the other 10 percent where we need folks to step forward and help people in need,” he said.

The money is used to support many programs, including child care for working parents, camps for kids, mentoring for minority youth and the organization’s hallmark swimming and exercise programs for children and grown-ups.

Some of the donations also help pay fees for existing members and their families when a parent has been laid off.

“We’ve extended our hand to help people through tough times knowing that health and wellness is a good way to reduce stress,” said Caroline Brown, health and fitness director of the Marysville YMCA.

Since 2002, the organization has provided YMCA members who have lost their jobs with either discounted or complimentary six-month memberships, based on economic need, said Scott Washburn, president and chief executive of the YMCA of Snohomish County.

So far this year, 15 members have asked for financial assistance.

“That’s the bellwether on how bad our economy is,” he said, “when people are pulling kids out of child care and canceling memberships.”

The organization has seen a downturn in memberships and kids being enrolled in child care for the past several months, he said.

The Marysville and Everett branches have been hit the hardest, Washburn said.

“I think the YMCA is one of the last places people cut if they have to,” he said. “People tend to hold on as long as possible.”

The YMCA also helps people who have trouble paying activity fees. Last year, the organization provided $2.1 million of financial assistance to help 7,002 people participate in YMCA programs, such as summer camp and child care.

“Child care is relatively expensive — several hundred dollars a month for a child,” Washburn said. Families can qualify for a YMCA program that allows them to get child care at reduced rates, he said.

The subsidies can be as much as several hundred dollars a month per child, he said.

This is the second year that the YMCA has set a goal of raising $1 million for its annual Invest in Youth campaign.

The money is used at its branches in Everett, Marysville, Monroe, Mukilteo and Mill Creek, as well as to support the local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter.

The campaign continues through March 18.

About 40,000 people participate in YMCA programs in Snohomish County and just over 6 percent give to the annual campaign, Washburn said.

Reporter Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486, salyer@heraldnet.com.

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