• 55°

A fresh start for the Y

It’s obvious that the Southside Virginia Family YMCA is in financial trouble.

We say this because Kipper Lafoon — a member of the Y’s board of directors — came to the Prince Edward Board of Supervisors in December, asking them to consider co-signing a note to refinance the association’s $2.1 million debt.

This was after he told supervisors that the Y has struggled from “month-to-month” with bills, payroll and the existing debt load.

Since then, Jane Schirmer, the Y’s chief executive officer, has announced her departure from the Farmville-based association.

We thank her for her service to our community and wish her the best of luck in her next journey, as she termed it.

Most importantly, it’s our sincere hope that the YMCA’s board of directors will start their own new journey of finding a better leader to make the much-needed community asset stronger and more beneficial to the areas it serves — one not burdened with debt and financial problems.

The board should hire a competent, experienced person to fill the vacancy who can take the bull by the horns and operate our community Y in a fiscally responsible manner while offering high-quality programs.

A YMCA, such as ours, which pays over $19,000 a month at a 6.95 percent interest rate for debt service, can only offer so many quality programs, services and activities to the public.

Think about what the Y could do if it got out of debt and invested that monthly amount in local programs for youth and adults.

The YMCA is an asset to this community and has done great things for many, many people and families, but it could do so much more with stronger leadership.

A good first step in this new journey would be for Thomas V. Warren, the chairman of the Y’s board of directors, to request a joint meeting to sit down — publicly — to go over in detail the Y’s finances with the directors and supervisors and to have an honest discussion about what the next step is with the second of three agreed-to $50,000 loans.

The Y owes it to their patrons and the community to do this.