Our local YMCA Board has lost touch once again, or perhaps I should say have never gained perspective. They had some sort of unexpected financial problem, I think with building maintenance, so they have decided to just charge all members double their normal monthly rate in January. That should raise about $60,000. They are pretty clever – but they are not very smart. Actually, I find this YMCA Board to be quite disgusting. They do not represent the values of the national YMCA. But then, it is a local Board – and it is the same in most communities.
The idea of a local Board has great merit. The local folks should be the best to know and understand the needs of the community. That certainly makes sense. The problem is that the Board is self-appointing. That means that wacko ideas can become self-propagating.
Most of the current members of the local YMCA Board are there for personal glory and the power that is perceived in making community connections. Most of them are so enamored with their community position that they fear change. They fear being seen as contradictory. When someone makes a proposal you can see the cowards looking around the room – looking for signs of approval or disapproval so they will know how to vote.
Several years ago our local mid-town (read poverty stricken) neighborhood had a youth center. The youth center was struggling financially – they were ready to close. Some of us suggested that the YMCA take over the youth center on an interim or trial basis – say for three years – and to run YMCA youth programs out of that center.
You would have thought we were proposing having a leper colony located in our gymnasium. I remember the female Board President snickering and curtly saying, “I would not want to park my car in that neighborhood.” Well how disgusting would that be – having a YMCA located in a neighborhood for needy children?
In 1996 I traveled with two other Board members (at our own expense) to St. Louis for a three day seminar on creating YMCA Endowments. The seminar was conducted by the National YMCA. They had great ideas and we were enthusiastic about the prospects of long term stability for our YMCA. The ideas were received with cold stares by local community leaders, fearful of agitating some of the good old boy contributors. Opportunities for financial stability have come and gone, lost on weeping whiners afraid of change.
Now they are in a financial crisis. And they can only think to burden the membership with their incompetent fiscal management.
The local YMCA Board idea is sound in principle – but when applied in a cowardly community of important wannabees – it is disastrous.