Rick Ellingson

Morgan Family YMCA

Rick Ellingson can’t remember a time when the Y wasn’t a part of his life. Starting when he was 6 years old, he and his brother would ride the bus from Fircrest to the original Downtown YMCA for swim lessons. He sold peanuts and Ivory soap door to door in his neighborhood to raise money to go to YMCA Camp Seymour each summer. In high school, Rick worked at camp as a counselor in the Outdoor Environmental Education program.

Soon after the Morgan Family YMCA opened, he started playing racquetball regularly at the Y and became part of a group of members who called themselves the Row 2 Ballers.

“They played volleyball – hence the name – and row 2 is the second row in the men’s locker room upstairs, where the cool kids would get dressed,” Rick says with a laugh.

These days, Rick comes more for the relationships than for exercise, though he can sometimes be spotted in the pool at the Tom Taylor Family YMCA in Gig Harbor, where he and his wife take their grandchildren swimming. Still, he remains close to the core group of friends he made when he first joined the Morgan Y, and is deeply committed to supporting the Y’s youth development programs.

Beyond those relationships, Rick and his wife give to the Y because of Rick’s emotional connection to the values and programs that shaped him as a young person. Rick realized the larger impact of the Y in the community when he learned about the Teen Late Nite program from staff member Phil Carter.

“I’m a strong advocate for anything related to kids, and I think the first thing that resonated strongly with me was Teen Late Nite, because it’s just a terrific program,” Rick says. “Phil’s passion and enthusiasm are infectious. When we started writing bigger checks is when I realized there were bigger things going on.”

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