Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Building a Better Y Pittsburgh's YMCA Has a Bright Future despite Having to Close Branches

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Building a Better Y Pittsburgh's YMCA Has a Bright Future despite Having to Close Branches

Article excerpt

For 164 years, the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh has been defined by the people and communities we serve. Yet the discussion about the Y's recent decision to close three branches is understandably focused on buildings.

This week, we expect to emerge from bankruptcy and concentrate our resources to create a more financially secure, mission-focused organization. As a first step, we are now embarked on a series of conversations with the communities affected by these difficult decisions.

These conversations will be challenging. They are necessary to ensure that Y programs in the Wilmerding, Penn Hills and Coraopolis communities, where branches will be closed, continue over the long-term. Without the community, there is no Y. Without the Y, the community is not the same. We are not going anywhere despite having to close some buildings.

It is important for the greater Pittsburgh community to understand that we have looked at the unique needs of all of our communities to identify the best and most financially viable approaches to delivering services that support our mission.

Why close branches? Reducing our physical footprint allows us to address our financial responsibilities. We can pay back our debt and generate revenue to invest in our facilities, our youth and our programs.

Why close these branches? Because of our financial challenges, we have not been able to properly invest in them, which became evident just a few weeks ago when Pittsburgh experienced severe rain and flooding. Our Western Area branch (already in need of repairs) sustained nearly $700,000 in water damage. For safety and financial reasons, we are unable to keep this building.

In Penn Hills and Wilmerding, three factors drive our difficult decisions.

First, the annual operating losses at these branches -about $200,000 a year each -are only one piece of the financial challenge. …

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