The Gig Harbor Family Y is now called the Tom Taylor Family, thanks to a $500,000 donation from the Fox Island resident and longtime volunteer and member.
In our story on Page A1, Taylor said he was inspired to lend his name and contribution to the Y’s phase two expansion project partly out of a desire for facilities that his grandchildren will use. It’s his second $500,000 contribution, bringing his total donation to $1 million.
The Y’s expansion, as detailed in an announcement last Thursday during the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s public affairs forum at Cottesmore of Life Care, will grow the facility by 10,500 square feet. A youth gym, teen center, “adventure zone” play area and new space for a nursery and multipurpose use will be added.
The expansion is almost entirely directed toward providing more space for children and teenagers, who make up 43 percent of the Y’s users, according to Bob Ecklund, the president and CEO of the Y of Pierce and Kitsap counties.
This focus on improving facilities for youth is encouraging. The Gig Harbor Y opened in 2007 with the intention of expanding to this footprint, and it most likely won’t grow beyond this proposed phase two project, because plans are in the works for a Y in Port Orchard that would draw many regional users.
That means the new project, which will increase the Y’s overall size to 85,000 square feet, likely will be the final version of the facility. That it’s centered around the interests of children and teenagers shows that the Y has its priorities in the right place, and its future in mind.
Ecklund’s presentation highlighted three goals for the expansion:
• To provide children and teens with a safe, positive environment after school and on the weekend.
• To provide a relationship with a caring adult through Y programs.
• To encourage 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
The Y has long been a place for young people to seek out mentor relationships, as well as a safe place to gather during their free time, but the last goal, to get children moving and active for at least an hour out of their day, seems to be best served with this expansion plan.
Construction of the youth gym and adventure zone will create two new, large spaces for all manner of exercise and fitness programs, from basketball to simple playtime. The large new addition, which also will include the teen center, could become a space where youthful energy — during a time when childhood obesity is reaching record levels — will be supported and encouraged.
Taylor spoke about his desire for more nutritional and dietary aid programs for youth at the Y, and the organization seems to have a true interest in reaching out and talking to young people about their health.
For Taylor’s grandchildren and for all the young members of the Y, having a dedicated space to be healthy and active is vitally important. To see that space grow, with the intention of bringing in even more young members, is heartening.
The Y isn’t the only place in town, for sure. The Cheney Family Boys & Girls Club on Skansie Avenue provides similar services with kids after school, the time during which Ecklund said they’re most vulnerable to getting in trouble.
Naturally, other commonalities are the Peninsula School District and governmental partners such as PenMet Parks, Key Pen Parks and the City of Gig Harbor. Communities in Schools of Peninsula also works closely with children, particularly in the role of mentors when it comes to skills in reading and math.
These organizations all show how much the next generation means to our future with their investments, both in time and money.
Taylor is at the top of that list, right along with the Cheney family and Jim and Carolyn Milgard, whose name is attached to the Family HOPE Center at the Boys & Girls Club.
These community leaders are making a positive impact on the future leaders of our community. They believe in our youth.