Eighth-graders from the YMCA TEAM Program participate in a trust circle during a weekend retreat in 2003. Submitted photo

Olympic Peninsula YMCA establishes new grant for local youth

In December, the Olympic Peninsula YMCA lost one of its most dedicated community members, when Sequim resident Dennis Watson died due to cancer.

In an effort to honor Watson’s legacy, the YMCA has established the Dennis Watson Spirit of TEAM Memorial Fund and Grant.

Watson was deeply committed to the success of young people in the community and as such he devoted nearly 18 years to the YMCA as a board member, volunteer and financial supporter.

During his time with the Y, Watson the charge for the YMCA Middle School Program TEAM devoted to encouraging eighth-graders to improve their communication and team-building skills, increase their leadership and to grow as more compassionate individuals.

“Dennis was a true believer in the power of team building. He encouraged young people to consider how the tone and intention of their communication impacted their ability to build a happy, healthy and vibrant community. He believed that young people, if given the opportunity, could play a vital role in making our communities kinder and more inclusive. His presence and the energy he brought to our Y programs will be deeply missed,” said Olympic Peninsula YMCA CEO Len Borchers.

About the fund

Fund contributions will be used to offer annual grants to Olympic Peninsula youth group leaders, teachers and those who are developing programs or projects for middle school students.

Individuals or groups with a program or project idea for middle school students that upholds the ideals of the Y and promotes team-building, encourages inclusion or fosters good communication will be encouraged to apply. A committee of former co-workers, teen program alumni, friends and family have come together to carry this effort forward in partnership with the YMCA.

“It is our opportunity to carry Dennis’ legacy forward. His dedication to young people in our community was exceptional and he always was willing to throw his weight behind those creating meaningful opportunities. He believed in the potential of others to make a difference and now we have the opportunity to support those with fresh ideas for youth development through the fund and granting program,” said memorial fund committee member and former YMCA Teen Program director Christine Loewe.

A call for applications will open in September and the YMCA expects to award $3,000 in funds in October.

“I regularly run into community members who participated in programs with Dennis and invariably they talk about what a positive impact these programs had on their lives. I hope they will join me investing in the fund so that our next generation of local youth will have similar opportunities. I really love that this fund means everyone can play a hand in supporting quality programming,” said Loewe.

Individuals can learn more about the fund and grant by visiting www.olympicpeninsulaymca.org and clicking the tab “Give” or by calling 452-9244.

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