Community Cafés bring together those who are 55+ to build health in spirit, mind, and body so that we thrive with greater purpose, connection, and well-being.
You have probably heard the buzz about the newest branch of the South Sound YMCA. The new Mason County Shelton YMCA was funded more rapidly than anticipated thanks to a capital campaign that brought out generosity in Mason County, Thurston County and regional donors alike.
“Shelton has long wanted a community center for kids and families,” explains Mary Gibbons, longtime board member and fundraising volunteer for South Sound YMCA. Mary and her husband Jim are a prime example of a family who lives in Thurston County but works in Mason County. They moved to Olympia in 1997 and opened Seattle Shellfish with operations based in Shelton.
Members of the Shelton community had been working toward the creation of a community center for decades. Around 2015, a confluence of energy on the part of a number of individuals, including Mary, started to come together around the idea of a YMCA. In 2016, Shelton passed an education bond for the first time in many years. “When the community invested in their education by passing the bond, it told our board that we needed to look at Shelton,” says Kyle Cronk, president and CEO of the South Sound YMCA. “Something good was happening there.”
By 2017, dozens of Mason County community members from local government officials to business leaders and educators were starting a capital campaign to raise $13-16 million to fund the construction of the new YMCA facility. The Mason County community stepped up and generated over half of the final total dollar amount of the funds that were raised. The other half came from state grants, Thurston County businesses and residents, and the support of regional philanthropic organizations who amplified the campaign in their networks. Another critical component of the campaign’s success was the City of Shelton’s commitment to the project.
The rapid funding of the new YMCA demonstrates the special bond between Mason and Thurston counties. “So many families reside in Thurston and work in Shelton or reside in Shelton and work in Thurston that it’s really important for these services to be fluid,” Mary explains.
Dr. Kyle Hackney practices at Hackney Family Dentistry in Shelton, but lives with his family in Thurston County. He made a generous contribution to the capital campaign. “As a business owner in Shelton, I feel a deep responsibility to support Mason County,” Hackney says. “Having a YMCA in Shelton is not just another gym. It is a community center that will improve the quality of life for all our residents and make Shelton a more desirable place for young families looking to settle down. Our support for this project is an investment in Shelton that will last beyond our years.”
A surprising number of Thurston County construction businesses in addition to Mason County businesses stepped up with in-kind donations for the fabrication of the facility. Reliable Electric, Sunset Air, Forma Construction and SCJ Alliance are all Thurston County-based businesses who are contributing both dollars and labor to the construction of the new YMCA.
Prior to the start of the capital campaign, Mary and other community and YMCA leaders were forging partnerships with local organizations of all kinds. “You can’t go into a small community and think that you can succeed alone,” Kyle says. “It takes a whole bunch of entities to come together to make a strong community.” In the case of a new YMCA facility, it means physically coming together to leverage common space in a way that elevates the health and wellbeing of the entire community.
Mason General Hospital plans to rent the gym and aquatics center for rehabilitation programs. Peninsula Credit Union will offer financial literacy services. The Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council may offer job coaching. Olympic College is considering any number of possible ways to integrate the facility into their programs. “When we talk about healthy living it’s not just about physical activity and what you eat,” Kyle says. “It’s really about the whole person and the whole family being taken care of.”
Perhaps most importantly, the YMCA partners with the schools. “Before and after school childcare and programming are a critical aspect of what the YMCA brings into a community,” Mary says. Mt. View Elementary School, Olympic Middle School, Oakland Bay Junior High School and Shelton High School are all within walking distance of the new YMCA location.
“We cannot forget to acknowledge the support of the elected officials of the 35th legislative district,” says Kyle. “Multiple communities came together across county lines to find this solution and we are all in. It wouldn’t have happened without every one of those dots being connected.”
State Senator Tim Sheldon and State Representatives Dan Griffey and Drew MacEwan played a significant role in securing funding from the state and gave personally to the campaign. Their commitment to the cause demonstrates the wide-reaching support from top to bottom this project has enjoyed.
Civic pride has been building in Shelton and Mason County as a whole thanks to Sierra Pacific’s new mill, the new wing at Mason General Hospital and new businesses and restaurants. The South Sound YMCA’s newest facility is another important expression of Shelton as a destination for families to live and work, and it has the support of Thurston County and beyond.
During African-American History Month, we celebrate the rich contributions of African-Americans to the cultural fabric of our diverse nation. For more than 165 years, the Y has provided safe, welcoming spaces where people of diverse backgrounds can find resources and a supportive community to develop their talents and reach their full potential. For African-Americans living in New York City during segregation and through the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century, the Harlem YMCA was one such place.
Established in 1901, the Harlem YMCA played an integral role in the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural, social and artistic movement in the 1920s and 1930s that brought African-American art, music, literature, theater and political thought into the forefront of American culture.
Sometimes called the “living room of the Harlem Renaissance,” the Harlem YMCA hosted African-American visitors to New York City who were denied access to segregated hotels, theaters and other public spaces. Literary giants such as Claude McKay, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes and James Baldwin lived and interacted at the Y during their peak creative years, while the Y’s “Little Theater” program would go on to launch the careers of actors such as Paul Robeson, Sidney Poitier, Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones. Jackie Robinson, who in 1947 became the first African-American to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, was a volunteer coach at the Harlem Y.
Today, the Harlem Y continues its legacy as a safe and welcoming space, helping families improve their health and well-being, serving thousands of children in afterschool and day camp, and helping new Americans assimilate through its New Americans Welcome Center.
In the Y, we believe that in a diverse world, we are stronger when we are inclusive and our doors are open to all.
This time of year we expect to see an increase in colds, viruses, stomach bugs, and the flu in our facilities, program sites and communities during winter. This season, however, we face a new and serious health concern with the coronavirus. YMCAs across the country are monitoring the global coronavirus situation closely. The links below provide up-to-date information about coronavirus and offer guidance and resources for responding to this and other types of widespread illnesses.
In addition to these resources, the CDC encourages individuals to engage state and local health departments to confirm channels of communication and methods for dissemination of local information as necessary. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) continues to report that the immediate risk to the general public statewide is low.
What you should do:
There are steps people can take to reduce their risk of getting and spreading any viral respiratory infections. We encourage you to share these tips with your family members, and our staff will be encouraged to reinforce them at school.
- STAY INFORMED – CDC is updating its website daily with the latest information and advice for the public. (www.cdc.gov/ncov)
- REMEMBER TO TAKE EVERYDAY PREVENTIVE ACTIONS that are always recommended to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.
- IF YOU FEEL SICK with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have traveled to China or were in close contact with someone with 2019-nCoV in the 14 days before you began to feel sick, seek medical care. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.