After years of hard work and struggle, the West Broad Street YMCA has learned from its parent organization, Y-USA, that its charter is no longer in jeopardy and that it has been restored as a member in good standing.
“This is a wonderful day of celebration for all of us who have worked so many years to make this happen,” says Rev. Thurmond Tillman, Board Chair. “This letter from Y-USA means that they have the confidence in the West Broad Street YMCA that the community has had all along.”
The West Broad Street YMCA is one of the six remaining Heritage YMCA’s in the country.
When segregation was still legal, over 90 YMCA’s were formed to serve the needs of Black residents who were not allowed to use existing facilities.
While the West Broad Street YMCA now serves all who come through its doors, its history and continued existence bears witness to the sacrifice of others made in the past as well as a beacon for the future. “Losing the charter would have been a terrible loss for this community,” Tillman offers. “Once a Heritage Charter is lost, it cannot be regained.”
The West Broad Street YMCA has been on “conditional” status for years, meaning that it was not believed to be a sustainable organization and unable to apply for grants and other support from Y-USA.
“Having our status restored means that Y-USA knows that we are fiscally responsible, have programs that meet the need of the community, have a strong board, great staff, and the support of the community,” says Peter R. Doliber Executive Director.
“There is no question that this has been a team effort,” includes Tillman. “The community has been working for years to keep the Y afloat and provide programs.
There were times when it seemed that we would not make it, but God always came through for us. Had it not been for the dedicated staff, like Ms. Deborah Enoch who has been with the Y for over 14 years, the board members, and the many, many supporters in the community, this never would have happened. Having the City and the County financially support us in the renovations really made a big difference with Y-USA. We are very thankful to the Mayor, City Council, and County Commissioners who made that happen.” I n October 2008, City Council allocated $350,000 in funds to help the Y make necessary repairs to its structure.
The City Council followed suit in December with $350,000 in SPLOST funds.
The first phase of the repairs is to replace the badly leaking roof, heat and air conditioning, and repair the windows in the gymnasium. Additional plans call for repairing the pool, replacing the soccer and ball fields, adding signage, and improving the facility for programs, including the commercial kitchen.
“We have already been able to accomplish a lot thanks to community support,” says Doliber. “We have a computer lab, have refurbished several class rooms, had some landscaping done, and painted all public areas. We also have a complete workout facility that has been donated and is open to members.”
Tillman and the board see the restoration of its charter as the end of one hard one fight and the beginning of a new chapter for the West Broad Street YMCA.
“We are already working with community partners to add health and wellness services, education and job training, resources, and programs for the community. We are expanding our childcare and will be taking infants through pre-K as well as expanding our afterschool program for middle and high school students.”