YMCA to close

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Atmore Area YMCA announced Monday that it will cease operations and close its doors for good on Nov. 30.

President and CEO Paul Chason said the board of directors voted in a super majority to close the Atmore YMCA during its Sept. 19 meeting.

“This is a very difficult time for everyone associated with our Y,” Atmore Area YMCA Board of Directors Chairman Robert Heard said in a statement. “In recent years, we instituted a number of changes that improved our YMCA’s efficiency and effectiveness in meeting community needs. Unfortunately, we have not been able to generate financial resources necessary to sustain operations over the long term.”

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Chason said a lack of membership, operating costs and other factors contributed to the YMCA’s closing.

“When you look at all of this stuff together, it’s kind of overwhelming,” he said. “At the end of December, we expect to have less than $10,000 in the bank. That won’t cover our January bills, even with the contributions coming in.”

During the Sept. 19 meeting, the board of directors voted in favor of closing the YMCA based on the following provided materials:

• Cash on hand — By Dec. 31, 2018, the Atmore YMCA is slated to have $9,804.08 in its account. Chason said the YMCA won’t be able to meet its obligations in January 2019, and the YMCA needs to start each year with $40,000 to cover first-quarter expenses.

• Membership units on Sept. 5, 2018 — 305 units. Doubling the membership units doesn’t create a break-even budget revenue scenario, Chason said.

He said the YMCA estimates that 4 percent of residents living within 15 miles of the program are members.

“That’s not very good,” he said.

• Senior utilization — Some 40.5 seniors are visiting the YMCA per month at three times per week. Chason said most seniors using the Y are insurance-based seniors.

• Contributions — YMCAs in the region raise about 10 percent of their revenue through contributions to support those in need. According to the board, the Atmore YMCA’s contribution requirements are greater than 30 percent of the annual operating budget to pay for basic expenses.

Chason said the donation requirement each year for the YMCA is $100,000.

With the YMCA closing its doors on or before Nov. 30, the next phase for the local organization is to disperse the equipment, including the gym equipment, office furniture, etc.

Chason said the YMCA is going to handle this phase in a professional manner, adding that the board is going to keep meeting to decide what to do with the YMCA’s contents.

“We’re partnered with Atmore soccer, which is another viable non profit,” he said. “We’re working with Atmore soccer to make sure we can do the things they need to continue the program. All of the soccer equipment belongs to the Y. Why don’t we just give it to the program? That’s one of the ways we can take some of the assets and give it back.”

Chason has been the CEO of Atmore’s YMCA since 2013. The board said that Chason and his staff have worked diligently to create an efficient operation, to solidify the Y’s balance sheet and to grow membership. However, all of this combined with fundraising efforts are not enough to sustain the organization for the future, the board said.

“Our YMCA has had the privilege of serving the children, families and communities of Atmore for 23 years,” Heard said. “We are grateful for the support we have received from our members, participants, volunteers and donors. The board also wants to thank Paul Chason and his staff team. They have done everything in their power, against long odds, to keep our YMCA going. We deeply regret that closing down will affect so many people.”