Monroe and Sky Valley Family YMCA doors are opening a little wider for Monroe residents who struggle to afford memberships.

The organization and City of Monroe have partnered to offer free passes, which include weekly pool time and reduced rates for youth and some adult activities. The idea was proposed last summer, so people can access vital services that help maintain good health.

“I wanted to get out on the top of the mountain and shout it out to the entire city,” said Jamie Williams, the Monroe YMCA’s senior program director. “It’s thrilling; we are thrilled that this option has become available to our city residents.”

It is not the first time free passes have been supported by the city, Williams said. The partnership had been in place prior to the economic downturn, she said.

The organization’s development and corporate relations director Tonia Price went before the Monroe City Council with the ask last summer. At the time, the group agreed to put $50,000 in this year’s budget for the passes, but are required to vote on actually allocating the money when the time comes.

There will be 500 spaces available at any given time, Williams said.

Monroe city administrator Deborah Knight said they are worth $50 each. The passes will work for six months at a time, and then must be reapplied for, Williams said. The city will not be billed until an application has been approved.

That means if only 200 people apply, then that’s what the city will spend. The city council voted unanimously to approve the funds. Councilmembers Jason Gamble and Patsy Cudaback, who is the outgoing and longtime Monroe YMCA executive director, were not in attendance.

“We are paying for services and not just, like you said, a blank check — I really like that,” said Councilmember Kevin Hanford.

The passes are being provided on a first-come-first-served bais, and are available by going to the facility, 14033 Fryelands Boulevard, and providing photo ID and a utility bill that verifies their home address.

Williams said she moved to Monroe, off Chain Lake Road, about eight years ago. She was a stay-at-home mom and wanted to find a place where she could “get her life back together.” She knew she had found a new family at the Monroe YMCA, even before she knew anyone very well, she said.

Accessing those same services for many people in the area is a luxury, Williams said. They can’t always afford to pay their bills and a membership every month. The Monroe YMCA is well familiar with this fact, and last year it gave out $200,000 in financial assistance, she said.

With free mini passes, residents will have access to pool for seven hours each week: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 9-10 a.m. Fridays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Monroe residents will also have “Facility Member” pricing for YMCA programs, which includes swim lessons, youth sports, summer programs and childcare.

Call 360-805-1879 with additional questions.