YMCA offers grant for youth team-building programs, projects

The Olympic Peninsula YMCA announced last week the organization has opened the process for receiving YMCA Dennis Watson Spirit of TEAM Grant applications.

Now in its third year, The Spirit of Team Award seeks to support Olympic Peninsula youth leaders, teachers and those who are engaged in developing programs or projects for middle school students.

Applicants can request up to $1,500 to support their program or project.

Individuals who have a program or project idea that upholds the ideals of the Y and promotes team building, encourages inclusion or fosters good communication are encouraged to apply.

Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5.

The grant was developed to honor the legacy of Sequim resident Dennis Watson who died in December 2016 from cancer. YMCA representatives say Watson was deeply committed to the success of young people in the community and devoted nearly 20 years to the YMCA as a board member, volunteer and financial supporter.

During his time with the YMCA, Watson led the charge for the YMCA Middle School Program T.E.A.M devoted to helping eighth-graders improve their communication and team-building skills, increase their leadership and grow as more compassionate individuals.

Upon Watson’s passing, a team of former co-workers, YMCA teen program alumni, friends, family and current YMCA staffers banded together to create the Watson Memorial Fund and Grant.

Last year, four Olympic Peninsula educators and youth programs were awarded grants through the YMCA fund. Grant awards ranged from $1,000 to $1,500. Projects included: Stevens Middle School to help 125 students attend their annual Elwha science and team-building day; Chimacum Middle School, to support a three-day team-building retreat to Cispus Learning Center for sixth-graders; Jefferson County 4-H, to support facilitator training at the Gibbs Lake Challenge Course, and the YMCA of Jefferson County, to help with recruitment of challenge course mentors through the Building Futures Program.

“As a grant committee, we are honored to carry Dennis Watson’s commitment to youth programs forward; in two years we have given away $8,500,” Christine Loewe, Grant Committee Chair and former YMCA Teen Program Director, said.

“Having partnered with Dennis to connect with thousands of young people from our local communities, I know that team-building and communication work with teens has an incredible lasting impact. This grant gives community members the opportunity to take part in creating much-needed opportunities for local teens,” she said.

Interested applicants can find more information and the application on the Olympic Peninsula YMCA website at www.olympicpeninsulaymca.org/spiritofteamgrant, or by emailing to grants@olympic peninsulaymca.org.

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