After more than 30 years, Effingham County Family YMCA is closing its doors today, but officials are hoping to keep the nonprofit organization’s youth programs going.

YMCA of the USA voted to revoke the local charter following several months of meetings between Effingham YMCA Board of Directors and Y of the USA officials.

Local board President Jason Fox said the board has been fighting all year to keep the charter.

According to Fox, Y of the USA was not happy with the Effingham charter’s lack of donations and community support, as well as members.

“We didn’t have the number of members they wanted,” he said.

Fox said board members, most of which have only been serving on the board less than 10 months, met with the Y’s National Committee on Membership in Chicago in May to no avail.

“We were really hoping to save the Y, but they didn’t give us an opportunity to do so,” he said.

Phone calls to Y of the USA were not immediately returned Wednesday.

The dwindling donations and membership were compounded by an increase in the number of youth requiring scholarships for programming.

Those factors “have all been stronger forces than our efforts could overcome,” the board wrote in a letter to members.

The letter further stated, “The Effingham YMCA board members are deeply saddened by the closing, and we all feel we’ve done everything we could to keep the Y open and to make programming available to area youth.”

Although there will no longer be an Effingham charter, including a fitness facility, Fox said the Y’s current sports programs, T-ball and soccer, will finish their seasons.

The board hopes to use other organizations to keep the youth programs going beyond this year. Fox is doubtful the adult programs will continue.

The board is in negotiations with Mattoon Y officials in hopes of working with them to offer future programming locally for area youth.

If Mattoon declines to take on the youth programs, Fox said the board is communicating with other area agencies in an effort to provide those programs. Fox declined to name the agencies at this time since they are still in the talking stage, but he is optimistic.

“I know of one organization for sure, that’s interested in keeping the sports program,” he said.

Financial struggles are not new to the Y.

The Y moved its operations earlier this year to a storefront building in the south part of town after selling its building nearly one year before to pay off its debts.

Effingham County Family YMCA was hoping to take advantage of space in the proposed sports complex Effingham city officials are planning to build. However, Fox says that is no longer possible since Effingham lost its charter.

Fox said revocation is unfortunate.

“It’s really pretty sad to lose this,” he said.


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