Hazleton YWCA closing June 30 due to financial troubles

Letter from Precision Design;

Following
a three-month review of the financial difficulties that have plagued
the Hazleton YWCA, and a thorough review of all possible options to
keep it open, the Hazleton YWCA Board of Directors announced today
that they have no choice but to close the facility effective June 30.

Board
members met with the YWCA employees Friday afternoon and then sent a
communication to its members announcing the closing. Members who have
paid dues in advance will receive a refund for the portion of the
membership that is unused.

When
the extent of the financial issues surfaced several months ago, a
group of community and business leaders volunteered to join the board
of directors in an attempt to help save the institution. The board
met with other community and business leaders who strongly agreed
that all efforts needed to be made to keep the YWCA open.

Local
foundations, organizations and private individuals contributed more
than $80,000 over the past six months to keep the YWCA functioning
while volunteers with financial experience evaluated the extent of
the problems.

“We
want to extend our sincere thanks to all those who contributed funds
to keep our YWCA open while we conducted a review of the situation
and sought a possible solution. However, after this evaluation,
everyone sadly agreed that it would not be possible to continue
operating the YWCA,” said Lauren Sacco, board president. “We also
want everyone to know that the board of directors has not dissolved
and we will keep working to try to come to an agreement with the
mortgage company in an effort to find a way to reopen the facility.”

One of the main issues was a
breakdown of negotiations with the mortgage holder when a settlement
of the incumbered debt could not be reached.

In
a letter to its employees, members, program members, community
leaders and friends of the YWCA, the board stated, “The financial
strain and cash flow issues have plagued the Hazleton YWCA for many,
many years. The generosity of several large contributors by way of
bequests, and the fund-raising efforts from the community both when
the facility was remodeled and right through the current day, have
been the glue that has kept this very important entity of Hazleton
operating for many years. Unfortunately, due to the many challenges,
especially the debt associated with the mortgage on the building, the
board, in conjunction with community leaders have met and determined
that continuing the operation is not feasible.

“The
breakdown of the negotiations with the mortgage holders was the
turning point in the decision to cease operations. It was determined
that the long-term successful operation of the YWCA was not likely
with the debt that encumbers the building, and a settlement could not
be reached. There were other factors that also contributed to the
ongoing concerns of operations, but none to this extent.

“The Hazleton community will
feel the immediate affects from this closing, but no one will feel
the effects gr­­­eater than the employees who have come
to call the Hazleton YWCA their second home. Their displacement will
be the hardest to handle.

“To
the parents who have entrusted the wonderful staff at the YWCA to
watch their children daily, we send our deepest regret as they begin
the search for child care. To the members, especially those who have
long term relations as members with the YMCA/YWCA, we know the search
to find an exercise and swim facility will be difficult. And to the
entire community, we recognize the loss of this iconic facility will
be yet another blow to downtown Hazleton and the surrounding Greater
Hazleton area.”

The
letter concludes, “Finally, we wish to thank our incredible
employees, the dedicated members who have made the YWCA a part of
their lives, the contributors who have poured their hard earned money
into the YWCA operation, and the volunteers who have worked endlessly
over the years to enable the YMCA/YWCA to serve the Hazleton
community, and finally the current and past board members who have
volunteered their time, talents, and efforts to offer the services
provided by this facility.”

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