By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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When team sports returned to Blue Heron Middle School earlier this school year — revived by a community effort after the Port Townsend School District ended sports at the school to save money — some of the athletes were academically disqualified from participating, said YMCA Executive Director Erica Delma.
So the YMCA began a tutoring program to bring them up to speed.
It was a success, Delma said, and all the participants ended up qualifying to play.
Now, the YMCA is expanding the tutoring program to include after-school instruction to non-athletes who need help in specific subjects.
Delma said that 25 additional students have signed up — and more instructors are needed.
Qualifications to become a tutor include: knowledge of subject matter for fourth through eighth grade; an affinity for children; the ability to pass a background check; and the supplying of local personal and professional references, according to Delma.
Delma, who has been in her position for about a year, has faced a funding dilemma in the operations of YMCA programs.
Most YMCAs operate as membership organizations, where a yearly fee provides access to all facilities.
Jefferson County follows a program model, where offerings are subsidized by individual use fees, grants and support from such organizations as United Good Neighbors, or UGN, which raises donations and disperses them to nonprofits.
The city of Port Townsend provided $120,000 annually but that ended in 2011 when budget conditions forced the city to cut or eliminate its allocations for several programs. Also adding uncertainty is the temporary relocation of the Port Townsend Library to Mountain View Commons, 1919 Blaine St., where the YMCA is located.
In May, the library moved about 60 percent of its collection from 1120 Lawrence St., for Carnegie Library construction, and Theresa Percey, library director, expects to remain there until the beginning of 2015.
The situation provides a challenge as to the location of YMCA programs, Delma said, and the uncertainty makes long-term planning for these programs difficult, she said.
The key, Delma said, is developing partnerships.
“We have created programs in conjunction with the Northwest Maritime Center and the Port Townsend School of Woodworking,” she said.
“The way that I am navigating these challenging times where there are limited resources is by pulling together different organizations and find out how we can better deliver these services to the community.”
Delma is excited about a joint program with Jefferson Healthcare hospital designed to improve the physical condition of recovering cancer patients.
Anyone who has ended cancer treatment qualifies for the Exercise and Thrive program, which meets twice a week for 12 weeks and is geared toward the specialized physical needs of cancer patients who have been off treatment for at least 90 days.
The course costs $150 but scholarships are available.
“No one will be turned away for lack of funds,” Delma said.
“That is true for all our programs.”
Many of the YMCA's programs are free, such as an open gym basketball game that will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Friday beginning this coming Friday.
The game will be in the Mountain View gym, 1919 Blaine St., Port Townsend.
To volunteer as a tutor, call the Jefferson County Family YMCA at 360-385-5811.
For more information, call the YMCA or see http://jeffersoncountyymca.org/.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.