Snohomish County YMCA a place for all

By Scott Washburn | Apr 12, 2017
Scott Washburn

For more than 115 years, the YMCA of Snohomish County has played a central role in knitting together the vibrant fabric of our county.

Our country has changed dramatically along the way. There have been times of peace and times of conflict, times of unity and times of discord. Through it all, our democracy has persevered, and our YMCAs have been safe, welcoming places for people from all backgrounds.

Engaging and supporting all segments of society comes naturally to us, as a global organization with an inclusive mission and enduring core values. Whether you are new to this country or have lived here your entire life, our Ys want to help you reach your full potential. This always has been and always will be an essential part of our promise to people and communities.

The recent election has served as a near-constant reminder of the growing divisions in our country. A polarized republic may be our present, but it need not be our future.

At the Y, we know unity is possible. We know people can find common ground. We know communities can be safe, vital, and cohesive, because we have seen it happen – indeed, we have helped make it happen, by respecting all people and creating welcoming environments.

Our Ys are leading the way to a brighter future by acting on our belief that we are stronger when we are inclusive and our doors are open to all.

The YMCA of Snohomish County continues to build out our work to support immigrant and refugee communities by establishing New American Welcome Centers (NAWC). These centers provide both direct and referral services to meet the specific needs of immigrant and refugee communities.

Some of the ways in which we do this include: English Language Classes – seven different options at three sites, with free child care provided; Spanish-Language GED Classes – at our Y Casino Road Community Center;

Embajadores de la YMCA – key volunteer leadership guiding our Y to better serve our Spanish-speaking communities; My Achievers Program – dedicated to supporting youth of color and first-generation youth to set and achieve academic and career goals;

Women-to-Women Swim for Muslim Women – at the Everett YMCA; Countywide Forums – to address the needs and concerns of new immigrants, in partnership with local community colleges and nonprofits.

In addition, last year our Y provided $2.475 million in youth and family financial assistance, so that all people, regardless of income, can participate in Y programs and membership.

We know that we must continue to work with our community to ensure that our policies, practices and programs advance our organizational commitment to diversity and inclusion.

We must sustain our support for newcomers and immigrants, in partnership with our colleagues at Ys across America and in 120 countries. We must ensure all people – across all dimensions of diversity – feel welcome and valued as part of the Y family.

The road ahead may not always be smooth, but I am proud to walk it with you, in the name of our great organization and our great county. Together, we will build a stronger community.


Scott Washburn is president and CEO of the YMCA of Snohomish County, which has been serving and strengthening local communities since 1901. More information:

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