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YMCA almost closes doors

“While we’re facing real chanllenges that are — really from a fiscal perspective — are negative, we need to stay in a positive light and look at the opoorrtunites.”

That’s what Atmore Area YMCA President and CEO Paul Chason said to describe the situation at the YMCA, which almost had to close its doors.

Chason said after a generous donation from the Poarch Creek Indians, the YMCA is slated to stay open through the rest of the year.

Chason said due to some unforeseen expenses, including a $6,000 air conditioning bill and a $2,000 sewer project, the local organization was down to about $8,000 in the bank.

“Our operation won’t work on $8,000,” Chason said Tuesday. “So, our reserves were very low. It was to the point where we were doing projections, and couldn’t do payroll on June 1.”

Chason said help arrived last week in the form of the generous donation from PCI.

“PCI has been a long term supporter of the YMCA, and they continued with that this year,” he said.

Chason characterized the donation as a just-in-time contribution.

“We believe without any unforeseen expenses that we’ll be OK through the end of the year,” he said.

Chason said the YMCA has also been dealing with declining membership and contributions.

“Both have trended downward,” he said. “Expenses have stayed constant or gone up. We were looking at trends since January, and a challenge jumped up and bit us in the form of those two major expenses.”

Chason said contributions make up about 30 percent of the budget, and between 30-32 percent for memberships.

At present, the YMCA’s budget is developed on a three-year trend, Chason said.

“We look at the averages and do those for the forthcoming budget,” he said. “Our expenses are trending close to our budget, and obviously, we’d like to be a little bit better. We’re trending on budget, but way low on revenue.”

When asked how the public can help, Chason said the YMCA is open for any ideas and donations.

He said it may be time to think outside the box, how the YMCA can get from one point to another and that the staff and board believe it’s important to continue to serve the community.

Chason said the current programs that are running at the YMCA are still in progress. However, he said it’s been a challenge to plan for summer camp, not knowing what their fiscal status is going to be.

“Now, we did just receive a grant through Southern Pine’s Round Up, and that’ll help us with summer camp scholarships,” he said.

Additionally, Chason said the YMCA is still in need of a Zumba and yoga instructor, and is planning on doing a fall soccer season.