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YMCA fitness instructor challenges, empowers Everett residents #GaelForce

What a privilege it is to have Gael Gebow, Association Director of Healthy Living & Membership Advancement, at the helm of our association-wide Health and Wellness team! Gael leads, inspires, and challenges our staff and members to be their very best selves and has an incredible heart for serving the community. Check out this incredible profile of our invaluable Gael Force!

YMCA fitness instructor challenges, empowers Everett residents |

Monroe YMCA Executive Director

MONROE, WA. December 5, 2023 – The Monroe/Sky Valley Family YMCA is excited to announce its new Executive Director, Anthony Schmidt. Schmidt brings nearly 15 years of YMCA experience to Monroe, with extensive work in membership and programs. He has spent all of his Y career at the Marysville Family YMCA, with a brief stint as interim executive director in Monroe in 2021, most recently serving as Senior Program Director.

“I grew up in Maltby and I’m a product of the Monroe School District, so I’m thrilled to work at a YMCA in the community where I was born and raised, said Schmidt. “I am ready for the next stage in my career and it’s really something special to be able to come back to a place I grew up.”

Schmidt plans to continue building on the post-pandemic growth and success of the Monroe Y. One of his goals is to use his program expertise to expand youth programming, specifically teen programs and youth sports.

“Monroe has a very solid staff team and I’m looking forward to collaborating with them to take our branch to the next level,” said Schmidt. “Any place of business is only as good as its staff and we have a top-notch staff in all areas, from child care to aquatics, membership to youth sports and everything in between. We can’t do the work without them.”

Schmidt’s first Y experience was as a middle school student at the Northshore YMCA in Bothell, WA. His dad came home with a membership and he didn’t think it would be a good fit, but he found himself spending most weekends there playing basketball and participating in teen activities.

“The Y was a cool place to hang out and I experienced a lot of positive growth there as a teenager,” said Schmidt. “It’s that first experience at the Y that drives my passion for developing strong, impactful youth programs.”

As a young adult, he continued his Y journey at the Marysville YMCA. After getting married and moving to the area, he started as a member, but it wasn’t long after before he joined the staff. He was working in a retail managerial role and rarely got to see his wife and young children because of his schedule.

“I reached a point in my retail career when I knew I needed better work-life balance,” said Schmidt. “The Y was a perfect fit because it allowed me to be active in my kids’ lives, as well as within my community.”

Schmidt’s children are now 21 and 18. His daughter graduates from college in a few weeks and his son is in the fire academy. He may not be actively coaching their teams, but he brings the same energy and commitment to his new role and looks forward to sharing the Y with the Monroe community.

“The Y has something for everyone – from newborns to seniors, he said. “Come on in and check it out. As a teen, I thought it wasn’t a place for me, but I was wrong. I bet I can convince you that it’s an amazing place for you too!”

Lake Stevens Partners with YMCA to Build New Community Recreation Center

We are happy to announce a new partnership between the YMCA of Snohomish County and the City of Lake Stevens. Over the next few years, we will be working with the City to transform the existing Cedarwood Clubhouse property into the Lake Stevens YMCA, providing programs and services for youth, adults and seniors.  

This estimated $4.2 million, multi-year project will result in a brand-new community center serving the Lake Stevens community. Approximately half of the project is already funded through city-secured government grants and allocated city funds. Next steps are establishing a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize the agreement with the City, securing more funding, and completing the design and engineering process. If all goes as planned, we anticipate breaking ground on the Lake Stevens YMCA in 2025.  

I’m excited to extend our reach and impact to another vibrant community in Snohomish County, bringing friendship, achievement and belonging to more of our neighbors. It’s because of your commitment, dedication, and passion for our mission that we can grow and share the Y with a new community.  

For more detailed information on the history of the Cedarwood Clubhouse and specifics about the project, please read this press release from the City of Lake Stevens.

YMCA of Snohomish County Combats Social Isolation Epidemic

The United States is facing a social isolation epidemic. At a national YMCA leadership conference in July 2023, U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek H. Murthy, MD, shared how detrimental loneliness and isolation can be and how organizations like the YMCA can provide a sense of belonging and opportunities for social interaction.

“The mortality impact of social disconnection is on par with smoking daily and an even greater mortality risk than obesity.” said Murthy. “As the steward of an office that has spent decades addressing smoking and obesity, we must acknowledge that loneliness is just as important of a public health threat and one that we have to treat with the same urgency.”

The consequences of loneliness are profound. People experiencing loneliness or isolation have an increased risk for depression, anxiety and suicide. It also increases the risk of physical illness including cardiovascular disease, dementia and premature death.

How do we combat the problem? Develop and invest in programs, policies and structures like the YMCA that bring people together to build healthy relationships.

“The Y has always been an extraordinary source of value to communities for years and years,” said Murthy. “This is a moment in time when we need Ys more than ever to build those connections between people.”

At the Y, connections and friendships are built every day. It’s at the heart of everything the Y does in the community. Stanwood-Camano YMCA member, Nancy Lewis, shares how the friends she made in her water fitness class have expanded her social circle and given her a new sense of purpose.

“My friend and I would go to the Y together and attend water fitness classes and we always noticed a group in the center who was laughing and having a great time. I told my friend that they looked like fun people that we should get to know,” said Lewis. “One day, I overheard them talk about the dice game, BUNCO, and I let them know I play. They were totally welcoming and asked me and my friend to join their group and from that day on we’ve been friends.”

Nancy’s friend group, the self-proclaimed Mermaids and Mermen, has stretched beyond the walls of the Y. They have gone whale watching, participated in Y community activities, played games, and go to lunch every Friday after their water fitness class. They also serve as a support system for one another.

“Because all of us are a bit older, when someone isn’t feeling well we check in to see if they need groceries or medicine or a ride to the doctor,” said Lewis. “If someone is missing, we check in to see if they are okay. We’re just a group of really close friends that watch out for one another.”

Lewis encourages anyone who needs a friend to visit the Y because you’ll never know what might happen if you reach out and are open to meeting people.

“There are so many classes and activities to come to,” said Lewis. “If you just take that first step and are open to people, you’ll find your group. I accidentally overheard a conversation and because of that found a whole new group of people that have become lifelong friends.”