Aaron New, Author at South Sound YMCA

By Lesli Baker

Happy Holidays! There are many holidays this time of year!

I thought that I might share a few with you, as each of our valuable YMCA members may observe a holiday different from each other! A wonderful way to celebrate our diverse community to know and appreciate the Traditions of our neighbors.


Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is an eight-day Jewish celebration that commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabean Revolt. Those who took part in the re-dedication witnessed what they believed to be a miracle. Even though there was only enough oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for a single day, the flames continued to burn for eight straight nights.

Hanukkah celebrations revolve around lighting the menorah. On each of the holiday’s eight nights, another candle is added to the menorah after sundown. The ninth candle, called the shamash (“helper”), is used to light the others. Typically, blessings are recited and traditional Hanukkah foods such as potato pancakes (latkes) and jam-filled donuts (sufganiyot) are fried in oil. Other Hanukkah customs include playing with dreidels and exchanging gifts.


The name Kwanzaa comes from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, families gather and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara, then one of the seven principles, values of African culture, is discussed. An African feast, called a Karamu, is held on December 31.


In the Christian faith, Christmas is the historical celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Whether celebrated for this religious reason or solely as a cultural celebration, Christmas traditions vary around the world. Americans celebrate with Christmas trees, visits from Santa Claus, and dreams of snowy landscapes.

Other Days of Interest

Other days of interest that are observed in December are:

Dec 1 – World AIDS Day

Dec 2 – International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

Dec 5 – International Volunteer Day

Dec 7 – Pearl Harbor Day of Remembrance

Dec 10 – International Animal Rights Day

Dec 13 – St. Lucia Day

Dec 18 – International Migrants Day

Dec 21 – Winter Solstice

Dec 21 – National Homeless Persons Remembrance Day

Dec 31 – World Peace Meditation Day

The Shelton Family YMCA is excited to announce extended operating hours and new programming in the community!

Beginning October 31, the Shelton Y will extend facility and Kid Zone to provide more opportunities for families to enjoy the Y! And thanks to our community partners, LAP SWIM IS NOW AVAILABLE with your Y membership!

Be sure to join us for SUNDAY FUNDAY at the Y! Everyone is welcome to join us for exciting activities and classes each week, including new fitness classes, resistance training, salsa dancing, and more.

Check out some of our new offerings below and keep an eye on the schedule to stay up to date on new classes and activities for the whole family!


NEW Facility Hours

  • Monday – Friday – 5am – 9pm
  • Saturday – 8am – 5pm
  • Sunday – 10am – 5pm



Lap Swimming

  • Monday – Thursday – 5:30pm – 8pm

Competitive Youth Swim Team
Open to students 8-18. Must be able to demonstrate the basics of the four competitive strokes. Learn more at the link here.

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday – 5:30pm – 7:15pm


NEW Kids Zone! Hours

  • Monday – Thursday – 8am – 12:15pm and 4pm – 8pm
  • Friday -Saturday – 8am – 12:15pm
  • Sunday – 10am – 2pm


NEW Programs and Activities

Women & Weights

Strong as a Mother

Island Vibes Ride

Join the Resistance

Salsa Dancing

Brain on Games

Considering going plant-based for the Thanksgiving holiday? Here is a great replacement for the traditional turkey! It is a favorite holiday dish of mine, and even if you DO have the turkey on the table, this is also a delicious addition. Mushroom Wellington with Pecans is savory, saucy, and filling, with the delicious touch of the light, fluffy pastry layer, you will want to make it part of your family’s tradition!

*Make sure to thaw your puff pastry before you start (overnight in the fridge is easiest!) Recipe makes 2 rolls.


  • 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed in the fridge overnight (use cold – not at room temp)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)
  • 2 pounds mushrooms, sliced with stems (except Shiitake stems)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4–6 large garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (or sage or thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sherry wine, or another red or white wine (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans (or sub hazelnuts or walnuts)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons truffle oil (optional)
  • “Egg” wash – use nut milk, cream, or melted coconut oil to brush on the pastry. If not worried about it being vegan, whisk an egg with a tablespoon of water
  • Cheese to taste, like pecorino, gruyere, goat cheese, cream cheese, or a vegan cheese (optional)


  1. Make sure your puff pastry is thawed before you start – cold but thawed (note if it is too warm, it may fall apart; if too cold, it will be too stiff to roll).
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.
  3. MAKE THE FILLING: Heat oil in an extra-large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onions, garlic, salt and sauté, stirring often, until mushrooms release all their liquid. Turn heat down to medium, and continue sauteing until all the liquid has evaporated. Be patient, this will take a little time! Once the mushrooms are relatively dry in the pan, splash with the sherry wine and balsamic vinegar, and again, sauté on medium heat until all the liquid has cooked off. This is important- you absolutely do not want a watery filling (it will turn into a mess!). Add the toasted chopped pecans, pepper, truffle oil. Taste, adjust salt to your liking. At this point, you could fold in some cheese if you like.
  4. Let the filling cool for 15-20 minutes (you could make the filling a day ahead and refrigerate).
  5. Fill 2 Puff Pastries: Carefully unroll the puff pastry onto a parchment lined baking sheet (if it seems stiff, let it thaw a few more minutes until pliable).  Place half the filling in a mound along the center (see photo) and working quickly, roll the pastry up, and over, seam side down. Fill and roll the second sheet.
  6. Brush with the egg or eggless wash.
  7. Score the pastry using a sharp knife with your choice of design – crosshatch, herringbone, leafy vine, or just simple diagonal slits.
  8. Bake: Place the sheet pan on the middle rack in the oven for 35 minutes, checking at 20 mins, and rotating pan for even browning if necessary. Let the pastry bake until it is a deep golden color – to ensure it’s done and flaky all the way through. You may need to add 5 more minutes depending on your oven. Convection will help if you have this setting (use it for the last 5-10 minutes) Please, let’s not have any pale pastries!!! Nice and golden!
  9. Cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving. Garnish with rosemary sprigs. It’s OK to serve at room temp, but warm is best.

LIVESTRONG is returning to the Briggs YMCA in 2023!

LIVESTRONG is a program that creates a welcoming community in which cancer survivors can improve their strength and physical fitness, diminish the severity of therapy side effects, develop supportive relationships, and improve their quality of life.

LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a small-group physical activity and well-being program which meets at the YMCA twice a week for 12 weeks for 90 minutes each session. Since 2007, the LIVESTRONG® Foundation has been Y-USA’s partner in developing and delivering LIVESTRONG at the YMCA. The program offers people affected by cancer a safe, supportive environment to participate in physical and social activities focused on strengthening the whole person. Participants work with Y staff trained in supportive cancer care to achieve such goals as:

  • building muscle mass and strength
  • increasing flexibility and endurance
  • improving balance
  • improving confidence and self-esteem
  • improving emotional wellbeing of survivors and their families
  • connecting with other survivors during treatment and beyond.

For questions about the LIVESTRONG program, email Lesli Baker at bakerl@ssymca.net.

Vicki was born in St. Louis, MO, spent her late childhood/early teens in remote Alaskan villages, went to high school in a small South Texas town on the Mexican border, and came to Washington to go to college at WSU. Vicki found fitness after starting her first desk job after graduating and watching how quickly the pounds could creep on. After several years as a fitness student, she became an instructor while in graduate school and has now been teaching for over 35 years.

She has taught a wide variety of classes over her career, such as step and floor aerobics, high intensity interval (HIIT) and circuit training, toning and weight training, yoga and core, and classes for seniors and those with special health considerations. She has also been an instructor trainer, a personal trainer, a bodybuilding competitor, and a presenter at fitness conferences. Outside of teaching fitness classes, Vicki works as a consultant for government health information systems, data and technology, and with digital privacy and security. She has spent many years working in public health, which helps inform her knowledge of health and wellness topics and current health research.

Vicki finds the power of movement to be key to life and health and enjoys being an example of how exercise can keep you energetic, healthy, and active as you grow older. Her goals: exercise should be safe, effective, and FUN, and she loves to help people find strength and joy through movement. She has been with the South Sound YMCA for over 30 years, and currently teaches several Les Mills programs: BodyPump, BodyBalance, BodyAttack and Core.

Vicki’s classes take place at Plum Street YMCA!

  • BodyFlow – Mondays and Fridays at 9am
  • BodyPump – Tuesdays at 8:15am, and Thursdays at 12pm
  • BodyAttack – Tuesdays at 12pm