YMCA’s Power of Community Campaign makes an impact for Port Angeles family
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Crystal Oleson clowns around with her daughter, Lilly Alore, 9, outside the Olympic Peninsula YMCA in Port Angeles. Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Crystal Oleson and her 9-year-old daughter are feeling and living better this year thanks to the Olympic Peninsula YMCA and it’s Power of Community Campaign.

The ongoing community fundraiser provides financial assistance to qualifying families for after-school programs, sports programs, youth mentoring, health and fitness education and other assistance.

Oleson, who works full time as an in-home caregiver, said she couldn’t have afforded to enroll her daughter, Lilly Alore, in her two Y programs without the support of the campaign.

Oleson, a 28-year-old single mother, receives a 60-percent discount on Y programs based on her income and family status.

“I don’t know what I’d do if we didn’t have this place,” Oleson said.

“You don’t allow your kid to go somewhere unless you know it’s safe, and I guarantee you I can go up to any one of these people in here and they’ll all be there for us.”

This year’s campaign began in mid-March and officially runs through the end of this month, although donations can be made year round.

“We’ve had a lot of community support so far,” Olympic Peninsula YMCA CEO Kyle Cronk said.

As of Friday, the Olympic Peninsula YMCA had raised $147,000 towards this year’s Power of Community Campaign goal of $208,000.

“I suspect we’ll hit goal by late April, maybe the first week of May,” Cronk said.

“Things are looking good.”

Last year, the Power of Community Campaign raised $191,488 for North Olympic Peninsula families.

Oleson and her daughter recently completed a program called Actively Changing Together, which encourages families to eat well and play together to prevent conditions associated with being overweight like diabetes.

Since joining the Y about a year ago, Oleson and her daughter are eating less fast food and working to accomplish attainable goals.

Lilly has maintained a healthy weight and received a perfect bill of health at a recent medical checkup.

As for mom, Oleson said she has lost 20 pounds the healthy way. She takes a Zumba class on Wednesdays despite a bum knee.

Lilly is also in an after-school enrichment program called After the Bell, where elementary-aged children can find a tutor to help with homework and develop skills in arts and sports.

“The Y has given her a lot of self-confidence,” Oleson said.

“She says ‘I’ve got this, mom.’”

Lilly said she has fun at the Y and enjoys seeing her friends.

“And also I get to play with my mommy,” she added.

Examples of other programs supported by the campaign are Exercise and Thrive, a physical activity and healthy lifestyles program for cancer survivors, and a summer lunch program in Jefferson County.

The Olympic Peninsula YMCA has branches in Port Angeles and Port Townsend.

People can donate to the Power of Community Campaign on the Olympic Peninsula YMCA website, www.olympicpeninsulaymca.org.

Donations can also be made in person or by phoning the Port Angeles branch at 360-452-9244 or the Port Townsend branch at 360-385-5811.

“We love all the community support,” Cronk said.

Oleson, who has lived in Port Angeles on-and-off for 15 years, said the YMCA has “been there” when she and her daughter needed the support.

She said she relished the chance to thank staff members, many of whom she considers friends.

“We’ve had a really rough year just getting back on our feet, and this made it so much easier,” Oleson said.

“My life is so much better, period.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 20. 2014 7:47PM
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