Reaching for the future

Clark County YMCAWith a ten-year history of serving thousands in Southwest Washington out of its current facility, the Clark County Family YMCA is reaching for the future as our community grows.

A new capital campaign to expand the mission-based nonprofit’s 40,000-square-foot Vancouver facility kicks off next month with the “Plenty of Heart” event on October 13. The event will feature a reception and gala performance of “Oklahoma!” by Portland Center Stage.

Currently, the nonprofit’s facility offers health, financial and fitness programs for all ages. Built just east of SR-500 and I-205 in 2001, it features basketball courts, a pleasure pool and onsite child care for members. One of the improvements the new campaign seeks to add is a second swimming pool.

“This would be a fast lane pool for competitive swimming. Right now there are no fast pools anywhere in Clark County,” said Bruce Patton, chief development officer and vice president of the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette, adding that a new pool could be utilized by area swim teams for a low rental fee.

“We are also building an indoor walking/running track for all seasons, expanding the teen center and adding program space for youth activities, like a bouldering wall,” he added. 

The project would mean new construction of about 15,000 square feet with a completion goal sometime in 2014. Remodeling of existing square footage, from minor to extensive changes, would re-floor two basketball courts, improve existing locker rooms, expand the young child onsite care area, add group exercise areas for classes such as yoga and cardio fitness and create an enclosed, all-weather play area.

The campaign will require $6.5 million over the next two years, according to Patton, with a healthy start having already begun through silent donations. Federal and state funds have also been targeted for the project.

“We currently have $1 million pledged by the Board of Trustees of Columbia-Willamette YMCA, a lead gift of $500,000 from an anonymous donor and we have targeted almost $3 million from corporate, foundation and major donor gifts,” said Patton.

Community block development funding, as well as new market tax credits, would provide more than $2 million more.

Patton said the typical private donor has often experienced generations of benefit from the YMCA. 

“It’s important for people to know that the Y is a nonprofit, based on the generosity of the people in our community.

“Through the community’s ongoing support, individuals and families can continue to participate – regardless of age, income or background,” said Patton. “We offer an opportunity for a healthier, more active Clark County, extending beyond the walls of our community center.”

YMCA member Cheryl Conklin was quick to explain how the organization has improved her life.

“I started coming to the Y due to the fact that I could hardly walk, let alone exercise,” said Conklin. “I have now started to work out with weights. I am grateful to everyone who has supported me through this journey, especially my family for not giving up on me.”

“If I had to pay a gym membership, I wanted it to go to a business that put the money back into the community by helping others through a variety of scholarships and programs,” said fellow member Megan Laiblin. “I felt that my joining and paying dues – I wasn’t just helping myself, but others as well,”

Helping others is, in fact, part of the YMCA’s organizational vision, which states: “to serve the entire community by embracing social responsibility, promoting healthy living and fostering youth development.”

“The whole-family focus of our programs attracts people who value that,” said Patton. “Donors who have a heart for families, particularly economically struggling families in this time, want to contribute.”

For more information on YMCA programs and to donate, visit or call 360.885.9622.


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