Board members tout YMCA of Selma’s history, commitment to Selma and Dallas County

Published 4:16 pm Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ladies join in on a Zumba class on Saturday afternoon to get in their exercise regimen. Ashley Ervin, left, and Ada Clay, right, high step up to the music at the YMCA. Zumba is one of the fitness classes offered at the YMCA each week. -- Ashley Johnson

The ongoing effort to potentially save the YMCA of Selma received a boost last week when city officials discussed the idea of adding a fee to the city’s lodging tax that would provide the YMCA a strong and stable funding source.

But, the potential lodging fee — whenever the council decides — does not help the YMCA in their immediate need to raise $1 million by Dec. 31. This hard deadline is part of an agreement reached between the YMCA and two financial institutions, who hold two thirds of the YMCA’s debt.

If the YMCA is able to raise $1 million, the two institutions will eliminate another $1 million of debt, thus wiping away $2 million of debt that was accumulated in the construction of the current YMCA facility off of Medical Center Parkway.

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If the YMCA is not able to raise the $1 million, it is unclear of what those financial institutions might do and what that might mean to the future of the YMCA.

“This is an opportunity for the YMCA. If we look at this as a cross to bear, we might not be able to put one foot in front of the other,” said Juanda Maxwell, who has been a board member for the YMCA of Selma for seven years. “This is an opportunity, to not only retire a large portion of the Y’s debt, but also to tell the Y’s story and share with the community what the YMCA means to Selma and Dallas County. It is also an opportunity for us to invite others to join in the journey.”

During the Selma City Council’s work session Tuesday, Maxwell, fellow board member Ronnie Leet, and other members of the board, stressed to the council the importance the YMCA plays in the Selma and Dallas County community.

Selma Mayor George Evans, who endorsed the additional lodging fee plan, has also offered his support and help with the Y’s effort to raise $1 million by Dec. 31.

For Maxwell, the YMCA is an institution that for more than 150 years has played a vital role in Selma.

“One of the reasons I agreed to be a board member is because the YMCA of Selma is one thing in Selma that brings all people together, whether you’re black or white, whether you’re brown, whether you’re rich, whether you’re poor. It brings everyone together,” Maxwell said. “It’s an institution that does not seek anything else than to serve the public in a Christian way and that is important to me. It is an inclusive institution and it is one that if we fool around and lose it, it will be a reflection of what we are. And if we cannot support the YMCA — and what it brings to the community — what does that say about the kind of community we are? How can we come together for anything if we can’t come together for the Y?”

According to Maxwell — and YMCA CEO Bill Porter — the reaction to the campaign to raise $1 million by Dec. 31 — called Why the Y? — has drawn tremendous response from the community thus far, leading to Maxwell, and other board members, being confident of reaching the goal.

“I believe the community wants the YMCA to prosper. If I felt otherwise, I would not be a part of this. I think the community values the YMCA and what it means to Selma and Dallas County. We firmly believe that we as a board — with the community — will do what is necessary to make the YMCA successful. We have to be a positive,” Maxwell said. “Selma is a beautiful city with beautiful people and this is our YMCA; we need to take care of it.

“The YMCA is here for the good of all.”

For more information and 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.