How the YMCA strengthens from Bothell to Renton | Column

As the pace of our lives moves faster and faster and the demands on our time increase, the ties to our community become even more important. A strong community provides us with a stable base that helps us deal with the pressures of daily life.

At the Y, strengthening community is our cause, and on the Eastside, the Northshore, Coal Creek and Bellevue Family YMCAs provide an anchor to our community that gives all of us — regardless of age, income or background — the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.

At the YMCA, strengthening community means much more than providing a place to swim laps or lift weights, and while physical health is incredibly important to a person’s well-being, the Y does so much more.

Every day, we work side by side with community members to address the most pressing needs in Bothell, Redmond, Renton, Newcastle, Bellevue and Kirkland. We have taken on the aspiring goal to prepare all children for college, career and life. Through toddler, preschool, school age and teen programs, the Y is dedicated to ensuring that children are equipped with the academic and social skills needed to build a strong foundation for a lifetime of learning.

Preschool parent, Tia, says, “As a single, working mom, coming to the Y was one of the best things I ever did. It provides reliable, quality child care, and Jordan loves being at the Y while I’m at work. I have such peace of mind, knowing that he is in good hands, enjoying fun activities and learning important skills like swimming.”

Right now, the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) only provides subsidy for families at or below 100 percent of the poverty line ($23,050 for a family of four) creating a significant gap between those who qualify for aid and those that can actually afford quality care. With that, working families often settle for substandard care due to cost or choice or, out of necessity, have a parent stay home. Both options lead to fewer developmental building blocks and reduced financial trajectory impacting academic and social outcomes over the long term.

Across the YMCAs on the Eastside, we have provided 27 percent of children with financial aid scholarships with quality infant, toddler and preschool care who otherwise would not have been able to participate. This allows working families to fulfill their financial obligations and make ends meet. Their child(ren) will have positive youth development experiences that ensure a smooth transition to kindergarten.

YMCA Early Childhood Development programs are crucial to a community. Children who attend organized preschool outscore all other kindergarteners, go to kindergarten with 10,000 more words in their vocabulary, are 34 percent more likely to reach basic achievement by age 14 and 27 percent more likely to graduate high school.

There are many others who could benefit greatly from the services and programs offered by the YMCA and, because of this need, the Y is launching its annual community support campaign. Your financial gift will help continue the important work the Y does, be it providing kids a safe place to learn and grow before or after school; offering families opportunities to reconnect and grow together; or providing people of all backgrounds access to education and training to help them reach their full potential.

We encourage everyone in the community to join our cause. When we all pitch in and help our neighbors, we make a meaningful, enduring impact in the lives of children and families and ultimately, strengthen our community.

To learn how to support the Y’s campaign or volunteer, contact Tracie Draper at tdraper@seattleymca.org or (425) 282-1506.

Nadine Stewart and Michael Orbino are volunteer campaign chairs.


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