YMCA has truly had a ‘reboot’

Published 11:47 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On the eve of a 25th anniversary celebration which began in September, the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA faced a “touchy situation,” after a mid-July news story that spoke of a “major financial crisis facing” the local non-profit, followed by its former CEO resigning just weeks later.

These headlines, combined with nearly $400,000 of debt, which included payables to many local vendors, placed the local Y, its board and staff, in a difficult situation.

At the YMCA, we take great pride in our ability to serve everyone, regardless of age, income or background, and that was certainly in jeopardy as we entered September. After doing my homework, I felt confident that with a rejuvenated staff team and key board leadership, we could turn the corner and have the Bainbridge YMCA headed once again in the right direction.

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Members, non-members and community leaders began to express enthusiasm and support for the effort needed so that the YMCA might receive a “reboot.” One of the first offers came from Glen & Al Cromer and their daughter Janice Eakin. Mr. Cromer paid the YMCA’s annual membership dues with the Chamber of Commerce and sponsored the end of year Chamber Breakfast focused on the YMCA, which was held Dec. 1.

Ms. Eakin volunteered to help with targeted building issues and our weekly columns in the paper. Just days later, I got the chance to connect with Ms. “Sam” Miles for the first time, as she offered to provide much needed leadership with a newly designed “5 in 5” Annual Support Campaign. The goal of this staff and board-driven fundraising campaign was targeting an individual or two that would pledge $1,000 or $2,000 in weekly sponsorship for the YMCA over the next five years, with a contribution during the week of their choice. Each donor is featured on an attractive plaque located inside the YMCA Lobby each week.

Within weeks of the start of the “5 in 5” campaign, new and old donors alike joined in the efforts to help “reboot” the Bainbridge Y. Support came quickly from “Sam” Miles, Glenn Heard, Walmart, Georgia Power, Dick & Diane Ivey, Tammie Godwin, Mike and Audrey Haynes, Larry Miles, Sally Bates, Erwin Harrell, Jim and Liv Warren, Mr. and Mrs. Craig Griffin, Charlie Bowles, Jr. and Scott Ewing (First Port City Bank), Lance Reynolds (Riverview Lawn Svc), SEM Minerals (Mr. Poitevint), Charles Tyson, Dollar Farm Products (Tommy Dollar), Mayo Livingston, Sue Yi, Wayne Sirmons (First State National Bank), The Money Tree, Chip Davis (Family Bank), Nancy Gray, Harris and Mary Ellen Holly, April Aldridge, Sophia Langston, Tim Smith, Derek and Shana Martin, Winn Dixie, Leslie and Mike Harrell, Ted Mauldin.

The list continues to grow and extend the earlier support that was provided to the YMCA by Elberta Crate & Box, along with Stones.

The YMCA’s financial progress (more than $100,000 in new funding in 100 days) — has been accompanied by a most successful soccer season and now record-breaking basketball season, with more than 200 youngsters and volunteers engaged with the first games to be held on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012. Youth Sports Director Jim Holton joined the “Y” nearly a year ago, and he has witnessed the “turnaround” while serving as the Youth Sports Director. Associate Executive Director Liv Warren has also been enthused by the “reboot.”

I certainly give credit for those that built the foundation for the YMCA, like Cass and Bruce Kirbo with the help of the Kirbo Charitable Trust, but also the Reynolds, Harrell and Miles families, for the ongoing support they have shown time and time again. The Bainbridge Decatur County YMCA and this entire community can be thankful for initial levels of funding provided by these individuals that truly made the YMCA a reality.

People come to town and now they can continue to be told that “we have a YMCA” with child care, swimming, tennis, fitness classes, full size gym and 20-plus acres of soccer fields, and outdoor and indoor track! Yes, we also have racquetball, free weights and so much more, and this is in Bainbridge, Ga.

Now if only you would join us for a personal “reboot,” as we prepare to enter 2012. Let our dedicated staff team help make you goals a reality! Review our new offers and no joining fees at www.bainbridgeymca.com, or like our Facebook site today. We hope to see you soon at the Y.

Mike Haynes is the interim CEO of the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA. He can be reached at (229) 243-0508.