Support Y’s building projects

As the YMCA of Snohomish County builds new facilities in the next few years for the Stanwood-Camano Island area and for Everett, expect to see the building of healthier communities at the same time.

The YMCA was invited in 2010 in a grass-roots effort that sought to build a pool and other facilities in Stanwood when an existing pool there closed. The Y expects to break ground on a new facility this summer in the city’s uptown neighborhood in Stanwood Village, with the facility possibly opening a year later.

Still early in planning is a new facility for Everett. With its original building nearing the century mark and its last major addition in the 1980s, the Everett YMCA’s building struggles to meet the needs of the community as a center for personal fitness and aquatics, health programs, child care and development and teen involvement. Everett is growing and the new facility is needed to keep pace and serve its residents.

Retrofitting the existing building would be too costly, so the YMCA is planning a new facility either at its present location or elsewhere in Everett, possibly at the Everett School District’s former offices on the 4800 block of Colby Avenue. Construction work for a new facility in Everett could begin in 2018.

Stanwood-Camano is well on its way in securing the funding for its project. In short order, a fundraising campaign has already raised $8 million for the estimated $18 million project, said YMCA President and CEO Scott Washburn. Requests for major donations are continuing, and the Y expects to begin a broader-based outreach to the community for its investment into the project. As another $4 million is raised that should be enough for a green-light for construction, Washburn said.

Everett’s fundraising, the YMCA CEO said, will begin with a “quiet” phase, requests to corporations and individuals for significant donations.

If the YMCA’s facilities in Everett, Marysville, Mill Creek, Monroe and Mukilteo were just fitness centers and swimming pools, it might be something that could be left to private businesses to provide rather than a nonprofit organization. But the Y’s facilities provide much of the revenue that allows the organization to do a great deal more throughout the county, even in communities without a Y.

The YMCA of Snohomish County provides affordable child care for more than 1,150 children daily before and after classes at schools throughout the county and at its early childhood education centers in Everett and Mill Creek. Its Diabetes Prevention Program provides information to discourage a growing health concern for adults. Its support of Big Brothers Big Sisters connects at-risk children with caring adult mentors. Its adaptive programs involve developmentally disabled children and adults in fitness, art and cooking classes. It leads classes in English for Speakers of Other Languages. And, of course, it teaches swimming and water safety to kids.

Donations to the YMCA for its programs and its capital campaigns make our communities healthier, stronger, attractive to companies looking to bring or add jobs here and, ultimately, more enjoyable places to live.

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