Board says they are committed to saving Selma YMCA

Published 8:48 pm Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jude Assaad tries a new technique to playing soccer during an afternoon matchup Thursday during YMCA youth soccer action. -- Tim Reeves

Thursday evening, Jude Assaad could only stay focused for so long. Let’s be honest a soccer game can be a little boring at times. So, during a lull in the action — actually it was right in the middle of the action — Jude decided it was the perfect time to try a handstand.

If Jude had been a spectator at Thursday’s YMCA youth soccer games, this acrobatic feat would not have been noteworthy. But, he wasn’t a spectator. In fact, he was a player.

But, this is something you might come to expect during a soccer game between two teams made up of 4-to-6-year-olds.

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It is activities such as youth soccer — and so much more — that many are worried may not continue if a current campaign by the Selma-Dallas County YMCA to raise $1 million by Dec. 31 is not successful.

The campaign — Why the Y? — kicked off last week in order to help the YMCA meet a debt reduction agreement with two financial institutions. If successful, the YMCA will effectively eliminate two-thirds of its overall debt, accumulated during the construction of the new facility.

“Yes, it is challenging. It is a big goal and not a whole lot of time to do it,” Davis Henry, chief volunteer officer for the YMCA board of directors, said. “But, it is also a tremendous opportunity to eliminate two-thirds of our debt.

“As a board, we are committed to making sure we are successful in this campaign,” Henry continued. “We feel confident that we will be able to raise the money in time.”

In the agreement with the two institutions, if the YMCA is able to raise $1 million by Dec. 31, the institutions will eliminate an additional $1 million, thus clearing $2 million of debt owed by the YMCA.

The struggle the Y has faced in recent years to handle the debt load that came from a sluggish economy. The economic downturn hit hard many of the individuals who had made pledges to the YMCA during its capital campaign that built the YMCA.

Of the $4.2 million pledged by businesses, groups and individuals, more than $1 million remains unpaid and YMCA officials expect those pledges will remain unfulfilled.

But, if the YMCA is not able to raise the $1 million by Dec. 31, then officials are not sure of what the institutions will decide to do with the debt and with the YMCA.

It is that uncertainty — that threat of the YMCA no longer being in Selma — that has some of the parents at Thursday’s youth soccer games concerned.

“We would hate to lose the YMCA. I think the city of Selma has benefitted greatly from the Y,” Darien Arrington, whose son Grant, plays soccer. “These sports are just great for our children to participate in. Our schools don’t offer programs like this for children this young, so it’s so important that the YMCA does.”

April Redmond, who was watching her son Thomas compete in the match, said she and her family were excited to learn Selma had a YMCA when they moved to the area.

“When I moved here and found out there was one, I was very excited,” Redmond said. “You can see there’s a lot of kids out here, so if we didn’t have this we’d have a lot of kids sitting in front of the TV and not playing outside.

“It would be disappointing for sure.”

To help with the campaign to raise the $1 million, the YMCA has created a website — — where those wanting to contribute can do so through a secure connection using PayPal.

Those wanting to make contributions in person can do so by stopping by the Selma-Dallas County YMCA, located at 1 YMCA Drive, just off of Medical Center Parkway in Selma.

For more information, call the YMCA at 874-9622.


Staff writer Sarah Cook contributed to this article.