Kurt Turner, executive director of the YMCA of Sequim, overlooks the pool during the last week of work leading the facility. He helped prepare it for opening in October 2016 and gained more than 6,000 members in his tenure. He’s leaving to take over YMCA branches near Austin, Texas. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Kurt Turner, executive director of the YMCA of Sequim, overlooks the pool during the last week of work leading the facility. He helped prepare it for opening in October 2016 and gained more than 6,000 members in his tenure. He’s leaving to take over YMCA branches near Austin, Texas. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

YMCA director who helped open branch leaving for Texas

Organization to begin search for director in coming months

SEQUIM — After helping the YMCA of Sequim grow to more than 6,000 members, Executive Director Kurt Turner is leaving to go back home to Texas.

His last day is Friday.

Turner, 37, accepted a position in December as multi-branch executive director and association director of programs at the YMCA of Greater Williamson County in Round Rock, north of Austin.

“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 seeks to expand, and Turner said they felt his experience in Sequim could help them develop new opportunities there.

Olympic Peninsula YMCA officials said they’ll begin a search for replacement in 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 the Y will continue to explore opportunities to grow, potentially 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.

The YMCA of Sequim is 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 the Y officials 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” to return. He is looking forward to being 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 Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, the Rotary Club and churches.

He’s most proud of seeing a diverse group of people using the YMCA.

“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.”

Among the challenges in Sequim has been finding people to fill the 90 jobs.

“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.”

For more information about the YMCA of Sequim, call 360-477-4381 or visit www.olympicpeninsulaymca.org. It’s open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

________

Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum, serves on the Olympic Peninsula YMCA board of directors.

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