Not long after celebrating its 10-year anniversary, the YMCA Youth Investment Center in downtown Puyallup received a donation that left program director Renne Gilliam and her students stunned.
That donation was a set of couches — 14 pieces total — that refurbished the entire center.
“This has probably been one of the biggest donations (we’ve had) since we opened,” said Gilliam, who’s been with the center since its creation in 2006, where she started as a volunteer.
Gilliam and the students estimate the donation to total around $15,000. The donors wished to remain anonymous, but were originally contacted by 23-year-old Jennifer Guynup, who used to attend the center.
This has probably been one of the biggest donations (we’ve had) since we opened.
Renne Gilliam, program director at the YMCA Youth Investment Center
Guynup mentioned the youth center to the donors, and not long after, Gilliam received a call from them asking if she could meet them at the center. Two weeks later came another call, asking to meet again.
When Gilliam arrived at the center on Dec. 9, she saw the donors in the truck, unloading brand-new couches wrapped in plastic.
“They start unloading, and I’m looking at the truck and I say, ‘Can I ask you guys a question? Are these all for us?’” Gilliam remembered.
Students were there to witness the delivery as well. The donation made a big impact on them, Gilliam said.
“The kids came in and we opened up a box just to show them,” she said. “Then we sat down and had a family talk about how important this donation is.”
Gilliam says she told them, “These people donated $15,000 because you are worth it.”
The students felt the message. Youth center veteran students Zac Sanders and Charles Stanley, both sophomores from Puyallup High School, initiated a talk on respect to the other students and started rules on how to treat the furniture properly — no eating and no shoes on the furniture among them.
“I feel really blessed and privileged to get all this furniture,” said Sanders.
The previous couches at the center were old and not in the best shape, with holes or tears in them, according to Gilliam.
Everyone feels a lot more valued from (the donation). I feel loved and worth it. People look at (the youth center) for the future.
Ana Meyer, sophomore at Puyallup High School
Gilliam sees around 15 to 30 students a day from schools all over the Puyallup area. The center is dedicated to empowering students to get involved with the community in a supportive environment.
Now, Gilliam says these students are witnessing the community giving back to them.
The students plan on thanking the donors with a video. In it, Gilliam asked them how they feel about receiving the donation, and they responded with words such as “blessed” and “thankful.”
Puyallup High School sophomore Ana Meyer is the younger sister of Guynup and has attended the youth center for three and a half years.
“Everyone feels a lot more valued from (the donation),” Meyer said. “I feel loved and worth it. People look at (the youth center) for the future.”