Funding shortfall causes LaPlace YMCA to close its doors

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2011



LAPLACE – A lack of stable financial support in the community has prompted the YMCA of Greater New Orleans to close down its River Parishes facility in LaPlace, ending its three-year stay in the region.

David Osmore, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New Orleans, said the organization was interested in continuing its presence in the region, but underlying financial burdens made it difficult to keep it going.

“We get subsidies from various places, but it wasn’t enough to cover what was being lost,” Osmore said. “We lost $50,000 on it last year, and another $97,000 was expected this year. We had no choice.”

Osmore also said the facility, located in an old K-Mart building connected to the New Wine Christian Fellowship Church complex, was not getting the use that was anticipated. He said the YMCA was running an after-school program at the building, where neighborhood children could come do homework and play games, but recent enrollment was very low.

“The program had 24 children involved last year,” Osmore said. “We don’t want to eliminate it, but it just isn’t enough to keep it going.”

Osmore said the building offered classroom space, and representatives from New Wine installed a basketball court, but the program was lost in the expansive building.

The primary funding source for the River Parishes YMCA was the St. John United Way, which annually contributes about $50,000 to the organization for its programs. Dean Torres, executive director of the St. John United Way, said the group was prepared to offer the same level of funding through 2012.

“We understand and respect the YMCA’s decision and their responsibility to insure their own viability as a service provider for many other parishes in the Greater New Orleans area,” Torres said. “We thank the YMCA for their efforts with the children they touched while here and the numerous collaborations made within the community.”

Osmore said the problems the River Parishes YMCA suffered through are not exclusive to the region. He said after-school programs across the state are suffering from low participation.

“We are finding that parents just don’t have the money to spend on programs like this anymore,” Osmore said. “Of the 24 participants in the River Parishes, not a single child paid the full price for involvement. All received assistance or some sort of scholarship to participate.”

Osmore said the YMCA intends to eventually return to the region with new programs in the future. He said the organization is working with St. John Parish administrators to make that happen.

“We have worked with the United Way to identify where shortcomings are when it comes to the youth in the community,” Osmore said. “In the future, we hope to return our services to the River Parishes to focus on a well-rounded, diversified strategy that will allow us to serve youth, adults, families and seniors.”