Thursday, June 4, 2009


Recently our town has just built and opened a brand new YMCA facility, a multimillion dollar project with top of the line facilities. The building has the best of the best of everything from weight equipment to personal child care monitoring to a lush indoor pool, just to name a few. The programs are varied with choices from the youngest person in a "mommy and me" class to senior citizen water aerobics. There is something for everyone. Well, it seems there is something there for everyone who has money.

And I want to preface this post that this is not sour apples because I can't afford the membership fees. This runs a little deeper, and as a former social worker, I have issue with what is going on, as I hope you can tell from the rest of my post.

Again, this is a day to learn something here at "shoes/purses" rather than me just sitting here looking pretty- I'm going to educate and get on my high horse at the same time! I live in the second poorest county in my state that has the third highest unemployment rate in our state, and this information can be found at our state government's website. What I want to know is that if this county is so poor and we have so many people out of work, why is a family membership to the YMCA $708 a year (which is lower if you can pay in cash upfront for the whole year) plus the one time fee of $75, which breaks down to $59 a month? In a community where people are struggling to put food on the table, are using public transportation 60% more than last year because of the increased cost of gas, the food panties have seen an 80 % increase- why do we have a YMCA that would think of charging astronomical fees? (Our local newspaper recently ran an article with the stats about out city's need). On a personal note, my sister-in-;law works for a mental health facility and she says that the case managers there are seeing a doubling in client case load just in the last year.

I went to our local Y's web site and I've poured over the slick mailings I get and yes, they do have scholarships, but they are "limited." The mission of the YMCA says:
To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.
Please notice the "for all" in this that mission statement. FOR ALL should mean all, not just "for all those who can afford it." If a person visits the national YMCA web site and reads through the history, readers will find that since this program started in London in 1844 to now, the Y had grown and changed and evolved to meet the every growing changes with societal norms, offering programs to people of all race, gender, creed, and religion. They helped with healthy body and healthy mind. They provided educational programs when needed. Through it all, the Y has continually catered its programs for those in need.

I want to know how these programs are going to reach those who need it? I'm sick of people saying that with this new building "we want it to stay new so prices need to reflect the sort of people who will respect that". I have heard this repeatedly. And I think it's abhorrent. Others say that the T isn't a baby sitting service and that people will just dump their kids off. Oh, and I like that I heard someone say 'we need to keep the riffraff out." I'm sick to my stomach and appalled when I hear things like this. And to be honest, I have no idea is these people who say these things are those folks who are YMCA members or board members or employees or just townies shooting off their obnoxious mouths.

I live in a county whose population is about 35,000 according to the last US census. Of this population, 7,170 are children under age 17. 13.9% of children in my county live in poverty, the highest rate in the last five years. And 27.2% of children in my county receive public assistance- government public assistance. (data taken from the Kids Count Data book, 2008) With numbers like these, HOW can this brand new YMCA, who is supposed to provide FOR ALL charge these prices??????

My brother has banned the Y on his personal principles. My sister-in-law got herself and my niece a membership. And me, well as for me...I'm too poor to join.... I guess I'm the riffraff they want to keep out.

I wouldn't want to belong to a club that would have me as a member,


Curley said...

Amen sister. I guess we should start our own club " The Rifraff Sisters". Membership free, all welcome.

Maggie said...

Curley- and an Amen sister back at ya!

D-nice said...

Chef's Great Great Great Grandfather would be appauled. He helped to start the Y in the US. I am appauled I have lived there in civilization and recognize a HUGE need for a place like that if nothing more then just for the kids there.

Hecate said...

Holy f*cking sh*t!! Where I live recently built a new addition to the 2 Y's that were already here in the county and to get a county wide membership for the whole family is $497!

Yeah I can see they want to help pay for all the new stuff but comeon! Sounds more like they built a private club than a public place.

Maggie said...

D-Nice: I really wish the kids we worked with could afford to enjoy such a nice facility. it's amazing, for sure. I took a tour- and WOW!

And how cool about Chef's gs-granfather!

Hecate- i think you summed it up well with the 'private club/ public place'. that is exactly how it feels to me!

Farrago said...

Wait... whatever happened to the 'faith-based initiatives' program ram-rodded through Congress by Dubya and the neo-con republicans? Shouldn't that have paid for the new building of the Young Men's Christian Association?

Just like most politicians, religious leaders are greedy bastards.