Family photos adorn YMCA desks behind piles of paperwork


I like to pop into places and ask to look at what personal stuff folks keep at their desks.

They were very nice to me at the YMCA of Marysville. That could have been because they had nothing to hide. No cheesy Hawaiian leis, finger puppets, crossword puzzle books, bags of popcorn, silly pens or toys.

What did they have on their desks?

Tons of paperwork.

YMCAs have so many interesting programs, for all ages, that it takes organized minds to keep it straight. At Regina Wike’s desk, there was a WSU insulated mug, used for coffee and green tea.

She’s a 2003 graduate in communications and is glad to be the teen programs director at the Y.

Though she recently took down a collage of photographs, to start a fresh year, she still has a picture of her only niece, 1-year-old Harley, on the wall. In a frame is a photo of her family, five siblings, and her parents, who raised the clan in Marysville.

A box of unopened Grape Nuts was there to remind her to fetch items for home, milk and pizza dough, that she bought and stashed in the refrigerator at work.

In the same room, Missy Hovland, 22, sat at a very tidy desk. She is with AmeriCorps.

I admire AmeriCorps workers. Those who join work for not much money to enhance communities, protect the environment and improve the lives of children.

She works with sixth- and seventh-graders in a program called “Girls with Promise.”

If anyone can raise the self- esteem of that age group, we tip our hats to them.

Her sole adornment was a tiny pumpkin, to make her desk festive, Hovland said. There is a photo of her and a few friends, family and her boyfriend, who lives in England. The Mukilteo native backpacked through Europe with him after she finished college at Western Washington University.

She had black tea in a drawer.

I like to know the origin of names, so I asked Melissa Stearns where her daughter, Mira, got her name. Husband Robb Stearns didn’t like her name suggestion — Moira — for their daughter, so Melissa Stearns suggested they drop the “o.” He went with that and Mira is shown in photos on walls of Stearns’ desk area.

With mom working at the Y as a teen coordinator, it makes sense that Mira takes swimming lessons at the Marysville facility.

The child is artistic, and her colorful picture of a rocket ship is posted.

Stearns is studying for a degree in human development, aiming to work with at-risk teens.

The only out-of-the-ordinary items at her desk were fragrant reeds in a glass container. She said when 15 teens breakdance in the room next door, there’s an energetic odor.

Fifteen-year Y veteran Jennifer Paynter, member services director, had a small teddy bear from Starbucks on her desk.

She likes Starbucks; sugar free, nonfat vanilla, please.

Two sons are shown in photographs, Paxton, at college in Montana, and Collin, a junior at Lake Stevens High School.

Trying to get used to drinking tea, Lisa Anderson, associate executive director, had a box on her desk.

“I’m trying to drink it,” she said. “But I like coffee better.”

There was a hard hat with her name on it on a shelf, a souvenir from construction days at the Y. Her walls showed snapshots of husband, Carl, and children Kjell, 4, and Livia, 1.

At her front desk job, Linda O’Brien, member services representative, didn’t have a place for snapshots.

But when she was a service representative for Pacific Bell in California, she had lots of travel pictures posted, from Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Willow Creek.

Behind her desk on a cabinet I spotted the only food on my tour: Halloween cupcakes.

They were celebrating a birthday.

I’m sure the party was quick, because there was oodles of paperwork to attend to back at their desks.

Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or

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