Opinion

Answers to the big questions at Snoqualmie Y; Center’s first year earns hearty hurrah

When the long-envisioned Snoqualmie Community Center began to gel two years ago in the form of a new Y on Snoqualmie Ridge, there were some questions to answer.

Some big ones: As both a Y, with paid memberships, and as a free civic center, how would the place serve two functions? And would Valley residents support it?

Eleven months after the Y’s grand opening last January, we have some answers, thanks to some eye-opening statistics shared by Director Dave Mayer.

With a goal of 1,000 membership units—the Y has varied types of memberships, from families to individuals—in the first year, the Y reached that goal over the past weekend. Those membership units equate to more than 3,000 people—with a strong representation of families with children. That’s exactly what was hoped for.

What’s even more revealing is that the Y now serves about 40 percent of the households in the surrounding five square miles. According to Mayer, that’s the second-highest such number for any Y in the nation. Those nearby residents make up 80 percent of local Y memberships.

There have been 56,000 member card swipes since January, and 10,800 participants in the KidZone children’s area. This summer, teens put in 600 hours at Camp Terry near Preston, learning how to be counselors. That helps them build their experiences, fleshing out a real-life resume´ for their grown-up years.

The Snoqualmie Y was the one Seattle-area branch that gained membership this summer, rather than lost, as is apparently typical during the slow months.

On the community center side, communal space is being used by Relay for Life, the Northwest Railway Museum, the Boy Scouts of America, and for talks by local historian Dave Battey.

The place is shaping up to be the city’s primary emergency shelter, with an electrical generator in the process of being installed this month and staff getting trained in shelter management in September.

Nearly 7,000 teens checked in for a free acitivies this year, 2,800 participants came to wellness classes, and the center has logged 4,116 volunteer hours. Two hundred and fifty seniors took part in activities.

Another of the big question marks about a Ridge-based  center was how children and seniors from other parts of the Valley would be able to get there. The Y seems to have solved this, working with the Mount Si Senior Center and the school district to make sure existing bus routes connect to the building.

To me, these numbers indeed show that the Y is fulfilling its mission as a civic center for Snoqualmie. Of particular note is how the place is connecting with kids.

From its inception, this Y was meant to be a safe place for the community at large, but especially for children. Staff go to local middle schools at lunch and organize arts activities and dodgeball games. And children of all ages are welcomed at a variety of afternoon activities and family or teen nights.

That’s a great way to keep young people moving in a positive direction. A teen is less likely to spend his nights spray-painting walls with graffiti if, in the afternoons and evenings, he’s got somewhere to go where his company is appreciated and valued.

Behind the numbers, this organization is making the connections that matter, with local groups, families, and children. Here’s a hearty hurrah for the Y’s successes in its first year. It’s a hopeful sign for the future.

 

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