North Central Florida YMCA Deals with Debt
Balance beams, ropes and everything a young gymnast needs to succeed can all be found at the YMCA. Harold Cook is the current Interim CEO and he's grown up with the Y. Now the YMCA has fallen on hard times. Cook says it's like a homeowner being underwater in their mortgage.
"Money was borrowed," he says. "Buildings were mortgaged, to cover those losses in the past administration and so the Y ended up with a huge debt."
The North Central Florida YMCA acts as an umbrella for several smaller YMCA operations. When they tried to expand in Starke, Cook says the effort tanked and created a debt burden. So, they shut down that YMCA and handed off their facilities in Putnam County to another non-profit.
One parent says she doesn't know where else she'd go if the Gainesville YMCA were to close.
"I have no idea," says Nicole Herbert. "I really concerns me because the Y is so flexible with us. [her son] is part time and so letting me switch days."
The Y also provides scholarships for children and seniors who couldn't otherwise afford the programs. YMCA leaders say they won't stop giving out these scholarships, despite their own financial troubles.
The YMCA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize its debts. Leaders plan to save money with the closure of the Starke facility...and with a renewed fundraising campaign.
For her part, Herbert says she's still loyal:
"It’s a really great place, I feel really safe taking my child there. I love it, they have an outdoor area there where every time I go pick him up he’s running around, getting fresh air, they’re outside.”
The branch in Starke is the only one to close, and Y leaders say there were only 100 people registered there to begin with.
If you'd like to make a donation, you can contact Harold Cook at 372-9622.
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