YMCA gives free memberships to Everett fire victims
MUKILTEO, Wash. -- A bright yellow poster in Cory Armstrong-Hoss's office at the Mukilteo YMCA is a reminder of a very dark moment for dozens of kids.
"This is signed by the kids in the shelter," Armstrong-Hoss said. "It says 'Thank you YMCA' and a couple of specific notes from kids who are going to be able to come here from now on."
On New Year's Eve, a fast-moving fire spread through The Bluffs at Evergreen apartments on West Casino Road.
One person was killed and a dozen more people were taken to the hospital. At least 30 apartments were damaged or destroyed.
"It became clear that it had impacted a lot of the families that we do know and even the families that we don't know, we know through somebody that knows them," said Sandra Huber, with the Familias Unidas Program.
Many families were already low-income and had just depended on local toy drives for Christmas presents.
Armstrong-Hoss and the Red Cross immediately reached out again. "I just shot them a quick email and said how can we help?" he said.
Some members were already showing up just to take hot showers, and "within the next few days we said we can do even more than that," said Armstrong-Hoss.
The YMCA is now offering free memberships for a year to those affected by the fire. At least 30 people have already signed up, and those memberships will add up to nearly $100,000.
"They're really upset and sad. They lost everything they had," said Jackie Sanchez, who knows many of the families and what a safe place will mean for them.
"I think it's gonna be a stress reliever. They're gonna feel amazing," Sanchez said.
It's a feeling Armstrong-Hoss already knows. "I'm not a guy who tears up a lot, but I got emotional to know we can do something fairly small to help these families," he said.
The YMCA starts their annual fundraising campaign in February. If you'd like to help, donations will offset the cost for some of those free memberships.