Since its opening in 2016, the Sammamish YMCA has become a popular communal center for physical exercise. However, their mission goes beyond fitness. They strive to foster a connection with the Sammamish community through service.
But after two years of being battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the YMCA has increasingly relied on fundraising to make ends meet, given its memberships have dropped significantly during this period.
On Feb. 10, the YMCA will host a virtual kickoff for its annual fundraising drive.
“We are looking for the community to help support these programs that basically go right back to the community,” said Harry McGee, a Sammamish YMCA board member.
McGee said the YMCA has helped Sammamish by providing mental health services and senior services, as well as providing “a very solid footprint with the local schools.”
They have implemented programs such as educational daycare and Youth in Government, where middle and high school students learn about how state government works and get to spend a day in Olympia.
In 2020, after the pandemic started, gyms were one of the hardest-hit places, with many people cancelling their memberships. McGee said the YMCA saw a decline of roughly 70 to 75 percent of its membership base. This caused the Sammamish YMCA to essentially close, retaining only some staff to do basic facility upkeep.
In spite of this, “the community stepped up,” allowing the YMCA to continue some of its services during the pandemic, McGee said.
The YMCA adapted by shifting its focus to community pandemic response. McGee said they delivered nearly 53,000 meals to local residents in need over these past two years. They also hosted daycare for the children of first responders, and conducted community drives where hundreds of personal care products and around 1,000 new or slightly used winter clothing items were collected.
“We’re pretty proud…we did a lot of things on a very skeletal level of staff,” he said.
However, the YMCA wants to continue to restore services back to their former level, and even grow beyond that. That is where fundraising can make a difference.
Although the fundraising kickoff is later this week, the YMCA welcomes donations at all times. They plan to focus on four initiatives this year — hunger programs, mental health support, camp scholarships and program scholarships. During the event, they will cover specifics on how donations will be used to advance each of these initiatives.
“What we’re asking for is support of the programs that go beyond the four walls of the facility,” said McGee.
The Sammamish Community YMCA’s annual kickoff takes place on Thursday, Feb. 10 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. The virtual event is free, but requires registration. You can register for the kickoff here.