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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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