Since Line Roy became Yelm’s communications and recreation coordinator in October 2022, one of her top priorities has been to enhance residents’ experiences and memories of living in a small town.
Her determination to grow city-hosted, family-based recreation events from two in 2022 to 49 in 2023 not only expanded community outreach and engagement but helped create lifelong memories for community members along the way.
Roy’s efforts earned her Nisqually Valley News’ 2023 Person of the Year honors.
“I love Yelm. I love this community,” Roy said. “The people here, the friends I’ve made and relationships I’ve built are all so special. I feel like what I put into Yelm with events and the work I do pales in comparison to what the community feeds into me. I am so very lucky and blessed to get to be in this community and have the role that I do here.”
Roy said when she began the role as the City’s communications and recreation coordinator in 2022, she was able to shape the position as she had envisioned it because it was newly created. She thought about what types of events she’d like to attend with her friends or the kind families would go to while planning different event ideas in 2023.
“Coming into this position, it was more like, OK, here’s the position and do what you want with it.’ Building it from scratch has been super cool, and getting to see it grow is incredible,” Roy said. “We did make a big jump in events from 2022 in the City of Yelm, where the two big events were Prairie Days and Christmas in the Park. When I jumped on, Mayor Joe DePinto said, ‘We really want to make more events for families to do,’ including recreation activities for kids and for adults. We wanted to make our city a more memorable place.”
Roy coordinated many successful events in Yelm last year, including the mushball tournament at Prairie Days in June, National Night Out in August, and the year-long parks passport sticker stops. She said 96 different passports were distributed to children in the Yelm area so they could collect stickers at separate events throughout 2023.
“I think it's so special to see strong community support at our events. I’m reminded of when I was a kid and when my family would do fun events in my community. We had my hometown’s version of Prairie Days, and we’d go out and see the parade and do the activities. I remember those, and being able to be a small part in these kids making memories with their families is so special,” Roy said. “When you think about our community, so much of it is military, and so they might not be in Yelm forever. They might have a few years in Yelm, and being able to make it so they remember their time here as fun, special and engaging is so special.”
Roy said she realized that the work she is doing has made a difference while at the street dance event on June 23.
“I was sitting there taking a little breather. My friend had just had a baby a few months prior, and she stood up and was dancing with her newborn. That was such a special moment to witness, and I knew this is exactly what I’m doing this for,” Roy said. “We’re doing events for these small families, these new families, to create these beautiful memories. That was my heartburst moment.”
With such a big emphasis on expanding the City’s events in 2023, Roy said her work was cut out for her, but thankfully she had a dependable and reliable team to help her. She said she could not do her job without Cody Colt and his team at Yelm Public Works, along with Dean Norton, City Administrator Todd Stancil and Mayor Joe DePinto. Roy added she has “supportive and brilliant teams” in IT and finance, as well.
DePinto said he’s enjoyed working with Roy, adding he “can’t wait for her next great idea.” He previously mentioned how impactful Roy’s role was with expanding the city-coordinated events from two in 2022 to 49 in 2023.
“Line has been instrumental in advancing my administration's priorities of increasing communication with the public and increasing recreational opportunities for both youth and adults in Yelm. She has ensured folks know what's going on by growing our social media reach and creating relevant, informative posts,” DePinto said. “The events she has created for Yelm have been enjoyed by thousands of local residents and attracted many from out of town.”
Roy doubled down by saying she isn’t the only one responsible for the work; it’s her “great team” at City Hall, too.
“It’s working with our executive team, our finance team and IT department,” Roy said. “It very much is a team effort that we’ve got going on over there. Even our city councilors will send me things they see in other communities and ask if we could bring it to Yelm.”
Roy said 2024 will be another busy year with events in Yelm, particularly because of the City’s centennial taking place on Dec. 8.
“Happy centenni-Yelm, is what I’m saying,” Roy said. “This year I’m really focusing on events that are historical and celebrate our past and will get us excited for the future. We’re planning a big birthday party for Yelm this December. Think about all of your favorite birthday parties, what did it have? It had cake, piñatas, party games, hats. Our actual birthday is Dec. 8, so the event will be right around then.”
She added to celebrate Yelm’s centennial anniversary, the city will introduce a self-guided historical walking tour to learn about different historic locations within the city. There will also be an emphasis on the big anniversary at events like Prairie Days and Christmas in the Park, she said.
Prior to laying down roots in Yelm, Roy grew up in Sunburst, Montana, a small town 7 miles south of the Canadian border. She said the border town went through a boom period due to local oil fields but eventually steadily declined into a town of 350 residents.
After leaving Sunburst, Roy went on to attend South Dakota State, where she’d eventually graduate as a Jackrabbit after studying consumer affairs with an emphasis in marketing, public relations and event planning.
“When I was at SDSU, I was involved in student government. I got into the political field and wanted to make the community better. The community changes. I’ve always been super into building community, building a tribe around you that’s powerful and positive,” Roy said. “I am a firm believer that everything you do leads you to where you are. Growing up in a small town gave me the small-town feel that I want to replicate. We all want to feel like our community is welcoming, wholesome and nostalgic — bringing that experience from a small town... I want to hold on to that piece of Yelm. Obviously it’s going to grow, but we want to keep the comfort piece of a small town.”
Prior to assuming her current role with the City of Yelm, Roy served as the Yelm Chamber of Commerce’s executive director and was a member of Yelm’s City Council.
“My experience that I’ve had with the chamber and as a city councilor has definitely helped bring what I need for this role,” Roy said. “I think it’s great having spent that time on City Council, knowing the background of how governments in communities like ours work. My experience with the chamber helped me get to know the people in Yelm, the businesses, the leaders and partners. I think those pieces are also so important to make sure these events are successful.”
Roy said the City will continue to host and create family-friendly events in 2024. Yelm residents and members of surrounding communities can stay up to date with City-coordinated events on the City of Yelm Parks and Recreation Facebook page.