YMCA asks for help in dealing with debt

Published 11:18 pm Saturday, October 13, 2012

Officials with the Selma-Dallas County YMCA have kicked off a campaign to raise $1 million by the end of the year to clear up debt. The Y has reached an agreement with two financial institutions to help prevent any possible closures. -- Tim Reeves

For thousands of area residents, the Selma-Dallas County YMCA offers a place for a morning workout, an afternoon swim, a stroll on a treadmill or a place to watch your son or daughter take part in a fall soccer game.

Unfortunately, the YMCA now faces a situation where it’s future is in doubt and the likelihood of the YMCA no longer being in Selma is a real possibility.

“Right now, we control our own destiny. If we are not successful, we no longer control our future,” YMCA executive director Bill Porter said Friday.

Email newsletter signup

What Porter hopes he — along with the staff, board members and friends of the YMCA — are successful at, is reaching a $1 million fundraising goal by the end of this year, aimed at eliminating a significant portion of the YMCA’s debt. If they are not successful, then those financial institutions that maintain the debt might very well decide to foreclose on the YMCA.

“If we aren’t successful, then we no longer have control; we do not know what steps they would take,” Porter said. “We have been able to come to this agreement, develop this plan, and we have to be successful.”

If the YMCA is able to generate the $1 million, the financial institutions would forgive the remaining amounts of the loans used to complete construction of the YMCA facility.

According to Porter, the current YMCA was built and completed based on pledges from individuals, families and businesses. The pledge drive at the time brought in commitments of $4.2 million.

But, when those commitments were made, the economy — and the stock market — was in much better shape.

Today, roughly $1 million of those pledges remain unfulfilled and likely will not be fulfilled.

“Those who made pledges in 2006 and before, did so on good faith,” Porter said. “We are not pointing fingers at anyone group or any one person. No one knew the economy would struggle so much.

“Some of those commitments were made by those who made the pledge based on their stocks, some in banks,” Porter added.

He added that this campaign is not pledged based, but rather is a drive for cash.

“We know we don’t have a lot of time. This plan came together recently,” Porter said. “In sports term, we are late in the fourth quarter and we’re behind. We need to go into our two-minute offense to make this happen.”

In order to help encourage donations, the YMCA has created the “Why The Y?” campaign to show residents how much the YMCA means to Selma and the Dallas County community. Also, www.ymcaofselma.org has been created to provide an opportunity to make contributions online through PayPal.

“We cannot let the YMCA close. If Selma were to lose this YMCA, after 150 years of history in Selma, it would be a travesty,” Porter said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure this YMCA is here for years to come.”