After helping grow the YMCA of Sequim to more than 6,000 members, Executive Director Kurt Turner, 37, leaves this week to go back home to Texas.
His last day is Friday, Jan. 10.
Turner accepted a position in December as Multi-Branch Executive Director and Association Director of Programs at the YMCA of Greater Williamson County, north of Austin, Texas, in Round Rock, Georgetown and other cities.
“I am greatly appreciative to the Sequim community for the YMCA’s success,” Turner wrote in his announcement. “I’ve always believed a YMCA is a reflection of the community it serves.
“The YMCA of Sequim grew into a strong, vibrant, and thriving operation because those characteristics are ever present and practiced within the Sequim community.”
Turner’s first day in Sequim was July 25, 2016, at the former Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center at 610 N. Fifth Ave. A few months later the YMCA began management of the facility.
Prior to Sequim, Turner worked for 10 years in YMCAs in Texas, including the Southwest Family YMCA in Austin.
He said his new home branch in Texas is about three times larger than Sequim’s YMCA and features a resident camp.
That organization’s leadership is looking to expand, and Turner said they felt his experience in Sequim could help grow new opportunities there.
YMCA next steps
Olympic Peninsula YMCA officials said they’ll begin a search for Turner’s position in the coming months but association administrative staff will support Sequim’s branch until someone is hired.
YMCA officials also said they’re reviewing the organization’s administrative structure to see the best way to fill the position in the future.
In the summer of 2017, YMCA staff discussed possible expansion options in Sequim but nothing is planned in the immediate future, officials said.
Turner said in his absence they’ll continue to explore opportunities to grow potentially with adding more space to the building and/or with programming in and out of the building.
“(We want to help with) whatever issues the Sequim community feels it needs help with,” he said.
Some of the ways the YMCA of Sequim has been helping the community includes providing memberships for homeless students and families through Sequim School District’s McKinney-Vento program, and for people afflicted with substance abuse disorder and their coaches.
Turner said they don’t want to turn away anyone who is unable to pay for services.
Need for family
While Turner said he “didn’t come here to leave” he noted “it was certainly time for me” as he looks to be closer to his family and friends.
“It’s the right time in my life,” Turner said. “My niece and nephew are 5 and 3, and when I came here they were 2 and just born.”
He said he appreciates everyone in the community for their support of him and the YMCA and getting to know organizations like the Boys & Girls Club, the Rotary Club, and churches.
He’s most proud of seeing a diverse group of people using the YMCA, too.
“I’m really happy to see all of the different age groups we serve here,” he said. “You can walk in and see a 3-year-old swimming in the pool, and walk in the gym and see a bunch of active older adults in a class together, and down even further you see college students working out in the gym.”
He added, “The breadth of this community — all the age ranges and diversity we have together here in Sequim that’s what I’m most proud of.”
While not all peaches and cream, Turner said there have been some challenges in Sequim. Finding people to fill their 90 jobs has been one.
“We’re a big time teen employer, and in Sequim it’s not a huge demographic,” he said. “So we make sure we’re in schools and out there more. We’re a great job for 16-, 17-, and 18-year-olds.”
Another challenge has been fundraising.
“The community has been supportive of us and open to what we’ve done (but) fundraising has been tougher,” Turner said. The community sees us as a gem and not necessarily as a not-for-profit. There are so many wonderful not-for profits in Sequim. It’s difficult to go in and find yourself amongst them and tell your story and not just be considered a gem place to work out and swim.”
The YMCA of Sequim offers a variety of programs and classes that focus on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Some of programs include Exercise & Thrive, a 12-week program that is free for cancer survivors, the Seventh Grade Initiative, that offers free YMCA membership to seventh graders, free lifeguard certification classes, and more.
For more information about the YMCA of Sequim, call 360-477-4381 or visit www.olympicpeninsulaymca.org. It’s open 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum, serves on the Olympic Peninsula YMCA board of directors.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.