An Open Letter to Our Community:
Lancaster Family YMCA – Out of Options
By the Lancaster Family YMCA Board
Since 1854, the YMCA has been a fixture in the Lancaster community; and in its history, has survived many trying times and challenging events. In fulfilling our community needs over the past few years, we incurred a level of debt that was greater than what we determined was sustainable over the long term. As a result, we began making some strategic structural changes, as well as beginning an aggressive plan of debt restructuring in late 2018.
We were in the midst of executing that plan which we believed would both continue our high level of service to the Lancaster community and assure our long-term sustainability. COVID-19 forcing us to halt nearly all operations, however, has delivered a devastating hit to those plans. Now is a time unlike any before and the Lancaster Family YMCA (LFY) is faced with a new reality that requires an unprecedented ask and the need for immediate community support.
In executing our plan to assure LFY’s long-term sustainability, we began collaborating with the YMCA of Greater Brandywine (YGBW) in October 2018. Together, our two Ys maximized operating resources and undertook a number of steps to reduce our $7 million debt, including the sale of the YMCA at New Holland last fall.
We generated cost savings through administrative synergies and right-sizing our geographic coverage area and service offerings. We improved our credit rating by decreasing our debt. We began to address the deferred maintenance issues in our Lancaster facilities and made numerous much-needed repairs and improvements. We also began offering income-based membership, among other options, to ensure no one was turned away from the YMCA due to an inability to pay.
In our time working together, progress was made quickly and our debt was reduced by $1.5 million to $5.5 million. We were gaining momentum, and we were working with the bank to restructure LFY’s loan with YGBW’s support as loan guarantor.
Given the positive outcomes of our collaboration, LFY’s Board of Directors and members were set to vote on a plan of merger between our Associations on March 26. If approved, the vote would have officially merged LFY and YGBW. However, as you know, on March 17, LFY and all businesses had to close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown orders issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Obviously, this forced the cancellation of the vote and the anticipated merger and closed our facilities for the time being.
Like many non-profits and businesses, this required shutdown of operations has caused LFY overwhelming financial strain and exacerbated the significant debt we were already facing. And now, due to the financial uncertainty created by COVID-19 and with no assurance as to when we will be able to reopen, YGBW can no longer serve as guarantor on LFY’s loan at their current levels and our financial resources are exhausted.
Without additional financial support to reduce our debt, we are left with no choice but to halt our plan of merger with YGBW; and worse yet, we are faced with the realization of closing our doors forever and the need to file for bankruptcy.
This is devastating, especially at a time when our community needs the Y more than ever, and when so many have worked so hard over the last 2+ years to ensure LFY’s long-term sustainability.
Since our founding, LFY has strengthened our community by striving to nurture the potential of every child, promote healthy living and foster social responsibility through life-changing programs. Our community needs LFY, especially as we work to rebuild after COVID-19. Thousands will be negatively impacted if LFY closes.
- We worry about the 200 community members who will be left jobless, especially during such a difficult time.
- We are devastated for the 900+ children and their families who will be left without childcare and/or summer camp, including 60 children who will be left without Pre-K Counts, a program offered to children who are at risk at no charge to them or their families at LFY.
- We are concerned for the more than 600 children who will be left without our Safety Around Water classes, which teaches them how to be safe in and around water at no cost to them or their families. (Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children 1 to 4 years old, and the second leading cause of accidental death in children 5 to 14 years old.)
- We are uneasy for the 800 children who will be without LFY for their swim lessons. LFY is one of the few facilities in the area that offers financial assistance to those who are in need, making swim lessons accessible to all.
- We are troubled for the 290 young people on our Lightening and Otters swim teams who will be left pool less and without their fellow teammates.
- We are concerned for the 90+ people who receive support at LFY in managing conditions such as cancer and diabetes through our LIVESTRONG and Diabetes Prevention programs.
- We are heartbroken for the 15,000 people who stay healthy and connected to friends at the Y and who will no longer have the Y to grow strong in spirit, mind and body.
- We are distraught for the many seniors who count on the Y for socialization and friendships, as well as staying active and energized. LFY is one of the few facilities in our area that still accepts Silver Sneakers.
We don’t believe this should be the end of the road for LFY, especially with so many people still in need of all the Y offers. Without additional immediate financial support to reduce the debt, however, we are out of options.
COVID-19 has taken so much from all of us, and now, it is about to take a vital resource from the Lancaster community when we believe it is needed most. Please don’t let COVID-19 take the Y from this community. If you’re able to help reduce our debt, we urge you to contact us at 717-393-9622 or email@example.com so that we can save Lancaster’s YMCA.
It has been our honor to serve the people of Lancaster for 166 years. Our deepest wish is that the Lancaster Family YMCA will be here to support you for another 166+ years. We need your help.
LFY Board of Directors
William R. Hauber II, Chair
Jane McMinn, Vice Chair
Stephen Kirchner, Treasurer
Robert Drummond, Secretary
Mara Creswell McGrann
Dr. Carol Powell
Dr. Jennifer Reinhart