Charlie Davis

"I have fought the good fight, I have completed the race, I have kept the faith." - 1 Timothy 4-7

It was great to see the pools operating last week – it added to the excitement of the previous week, when we first reopened our community centers. This was by design. Brian Flattum and the operations team have been rebuilding our Y carefully, looking at what we are capable of adding under the very restrictive guidelines created by the governor’s office. Brian has adopted the “Moving as One” philosophy, building a strong, cohesive team that includes all aspects of our operation. This is, and will continue to be, an important factor in our ability to operate successfully, particularly under these conditions. It is great to see how Camp Seymour has stepped up to become a value-add to our membership, offering activities such as zip line, archery, family adventure, sunset paddle, and hiking. Diane Jackson reported that over 60 people (capacity) took part in activities this past weekend, with one family making a $300 donation on their way out to show their appreciation. Camp and Camp’s team are vital assets to our organization, and now they are a unique component to help rebuild membership within our association.

In addition to opening our pools, Brian and the operations team have begun to strategize how to roll more programming (specifically for youth) into our operations’ model. Brian has been working with Senior Gymnastics Director Kevin Milliren to design the gymnastics program for the Mel Korum, Morgan, and Lakewood Family YMCAs. Gymnastics has long been a signature program for our association and the guidelines do permit us to offer this program to youth. In addition, Brian will be adding more arts programs at the Haselwood, Bremerton, Tom Taylor, and Gordon Family YMCAs. The in-person arts programs will be a great complement to the virtual arts programming Lynn Wilmot-Stenehjem and her team have been offering to youth across our association. Lynn reported that over 100 youth signed up within the first hour of registration to participate in a variety of online arts programs. This is a very exciting development for our Y, demonstrating that the virtual component can be successful as a means to engage our members and provide value for their membership. Lynn works hard to ensure the virtual classes are high quality, building in a greater degree of staff engagement with youth and families.

We believe the virtual component is very important to our success, especially during this period. We have great instructors, but as Lynn has stated, it is a different skillset to lead a class and create engagement online. Michael Marquez has been leading our virtual effort, along with Lynn and Michelle LaRue. The effort has been increasing slowly, offering more programs and classes to promote member engagement and value for the membership. The success we are experiencing in the arts demonstrates that a high-quality program can be successful online. We believe having online options alongside in-person options will be a significant value-add. Developing these new skills will be important moving forward to ensure members can appreciate the value of online programming. With our YMCA 360 partnership, we will soon have the ability to project the programs onto television screens, which will be a big improvement in member engagement and quality. In addition, once our new CRM (Salesforce) goes live in December, we will not only have the ability to make our services available to our members, but also make them available to the community on a fee-basis. Bruce Caudill and his team have been working hard to ensure our association is ready to activate the new CRM by December 1. The integration of a new CRM is challenging enough, but to do it with a small team during a pandemic is monumental.

Last week during the Friday community conversations call, we highlighted the work each staff team has been doing to safely open the community centers. On the call, Stephanie Roberts reported there had been 120 members in Gordon’s building at one time, nearly reaching their capacity of 169. I was thrilled to hear such great results – it was the highest-use report at any one time throughout the past two weeks being reopened. Stephanie has played an important role in creating the blueprint for our association to follow in order to operate successfully under these circumstances, and it was fun to see her call out how close her community center was to being at capacity. I also know Tiffany Stewart-Harris and Tara Bywater are well aware where our numbers stand at any given time. They prepare a daily utilization report for Brian and me, and provide us with the net membership report, which includes holds, cancels, and activations. In addition to Tiffany and Tara, the engagement center team of Michael Sloan, Nikita Amundson, Terry Hall, Carrie Moura, Kate Loomis, Makayla Lim, Hannah Martinson, and Karen Austria have been doing extra duty to respond to the hundreds and hundreds of phone calls and emails requiring adjustments to membership accounts, as well as to provide accurate numbers to the association. (Special shout out to the IT team who jumped in to assist as well.)

The utilization report shows we are operating at 26.34% of the use we saw at this time last year. Brian points out that this far exceeds the national average other Ys have been experiencing, which is between 10% and 15%. I get excited to hear that, and immediately recognize the tremendous team we have and all the hard work that has gone into getting us to this point. I know this has been a challenging road and we are not out of it quite yet, but you have all stepped up in a big way to position us to be successful. I do think it is important to add that there have been no instances of the virus being reported; it is even more amazing to recognize that the Child Care team has not had any reports of the virus at any point since it began providing all-day service on March 17 (I can hear Tara Harkness knocking on wood somewhere.) We are firing on all cylinders and there is more on the horizon. Adding programs and developing the virtual will surely draw more members into participating in our Y, but members are still waiting to see if this is what they want (is it safe, and is it welcoming and inviting?). The member experience is very different, but the many accounts of member testimonials of how great it is to be back in “their Y” is reassuring to the future of our Y. I love Jose Gorospe’s account of members “jumping up and down like little kids now that they are back in the Y.” I actually witnessed a member get teary-eyed when she walked through the front doors of the Gordon Y, saying: “I am so glad to be back. I missed my Y family.” Hearing those words and the many other accounts certainly ease the pain of the long wait we have endured. I am so grateful for all of you – you have performed under great duress and you have never blinked in your commitment to serve. Thank you for your tireless effort and dedication. Because of you, so many people are able to find health and community. I am in awe of your commitment to making our Y great.