Ever since Michele McGinnis founded the Yoga Collective of Yakima in 2013, she and its volunteer instructors have shared its message, and its classes, with as many people as possible.
The message is that yoga is for everyone. You don’t need to look a certain way or wear expensive clothing or fall within a specific age range or fitness level. The nonprofit yoga studio provides props, offers courses in English and Spanish, and classes are free.
Class sponsorships make that possible. One person may donate $20 — the approximate cost of holding a class — which makes the class free for everyone else, or more people may donate lesser amounts.
And the studio is halfway through its first 200-hour yoga teacher training for instructors of color. Preference was given to fluent bilingual Latinos/as and indigenous and Native Americans. Yoga teacher training is offered by other local studios at a cost of $3,000, or much more.
“YOCO’s long-term goal is that our class offerings better reflect Yakima’s demographics and we’ll need Spanish-speaking and Native teachers to accomplish this,” McGinnis has said. “The Yoga Collective has done an excellent job in reaching nontraditional, under-reached students.
“In order to serve the Latino community, we need to have teachers who look like them. That is the motivation and the philosophy.”
The yoga studio is just one of hundreds of nonprofits in the Yakima Valley that change lives daily. They hope to benefit from Giving Tuesday, which encourages people to donate to their favorite causes online. It follows annual shop-fests Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday and has become an important way for nonprofits to raise funds and awareness.
Giving Tuesday runs for 24 hours and begins at midnight local time Tuesday, according to www.givingtuesday.org. But if donors want their amount matched by Facebook, they should be online at 5 a.m. PST that day.
On Tuesday, McGinnis hopes to raise around $5,000 and Facebook’s commitment could help reach that goal. YOCO, at Rainier Square since 2015, is close to signing a five-year lease elsewhere. The nonprofit has never had a long-term lease, she said, stressing that Rainier has been “awesome.”
“It is going to increase our rent significantly. This is going to give us security,” McGinnis said.
Caps and terms apply for those giving on Facebook, and though Giving Tuesday has become a global event since its founding in New York City in 2012, donations to foreign-based charitable organizations won’t qualify for a charitable tax deduction.
But Giving Tuesday can still make a big difference in Washington. The state’s nonprofit sector includes approximately 30,000 federally recognized tax-exempt nonprofits. Most are small, volunteer-led organizations. In 2015, only 6,162 nonprofit organizations in Washington reported paying staff wages in 2015, according to Washington Nonprofits.
Heartlinks Hospice & Palliative Care, based in Sunnyside, supports patients and families in need of end of life care. Its Giving Tuesday goal of $2,500 will provide patients and their families with small comfort items “to ensure that every moment matters at the end of life, a news release noted.
La Casa Hogar in Yakima connects and educates Latina families to transform lives. It is asking donors to commit to monthly recurring gifts on Tuesday. Giving Tuesday donations to the Yakima Music en Accion after-school orchestra program can help instructors reach more students in the academic year.
And it’s not just giving money. Local nonprofits welcome volunteers and all kinds of donations now and throughout the year.
For example, the Calico Cat Cafe in Zillah, which is run by Community SEEDS, can always use any low powder/scent-free clumping litter and Purina One Tender Selects Chicken cat food. The unique restaurant houses permanent feline residents along with a few available for adoption.
Community SEEDS provides job training and social activities for adults with developmental disabilities. There are 389 men and women in Yakima County with an intellectual or developmental disability who can’t get employment or day activities from the social service system due to lack of funding, a flyer notes.
That puts them at risk of isolation. The Calico Cat Cafe offers work and social opportunities, along with efforts to rehome cats. Community SEEDS’ Giving Tuesday goal is 389 donors each giving $38.90.
Beyond Giving Tuesday, the work continues. The instructor training that YOCO is providing for 13 students a few times every week means the nonprofit will do an even better job of including all physical capacities, all cultures and all orientations. “Yoga for everybody,” McGinnis said.
All genders are welcome. Teacher-in-training Brad Cater has practiced yoga daily for three years.
A few who are taking the yoga instructor training stressed they want others to know YOCO is here for them with about 75 classes a month; that includes several a week, Sandra Aguilar noted. It’s a welcoming place, they said, offering their own stories of how they began coming for classes, then decided to become instructors.
“Everyone and anyone is welcome,” said Maria Perez. “In my last class I had two students who had never done yoga. Their loved one was in the hospital and they had seen a flyer (there).”
Each has her or his own style of teaching, Sharon Reyna said, so if one instructor doesn’t work, those interested in YOCO classes should try another. Classes emphasize gentle yoga and focus on poses; they don’t involve religion, Magaly Solis said.
Yoga classes will improve mobility, among other benefits, Maria Perez said. She hopes anyone who’s interested will give YOCO a try.
“No flexibility required,” she said.