Sarasota YMCA to Shutter Both Fitness Centers

Todays News

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY JUL 24, 2019

Sarasota YMCA has announced that “with a heavy heart” it will be permanently closing its two Sarasota Family YMCA fitness centers on Friday, September 13 at 5pm. The affected fitness centers are the Evalyn Sadlier Jones Branch at Potter Park Drive and the Frank G. Berlin Sr. Branch on South Euclid Avenue.

In a message to the community, the organization reports that despite efforts to the contrary, the centers have “operated at a financial loss for the past several years” and are no longer sustainable. As a result, the YMCA Board will be turning “100% of its focus” to operating the YMCA’s ongoing foster care and social services programs that have served vulnerable populations in the community for many decades, including abused, neglected and at-risk children. “The YMCA’s mission has always been to meet community needs,” the statement reads, “and in continuing to operate these important foster care and social service programs this mission of the YMCA will continue to be fulfilled.”

A “last possible alternative,” the decision to close the fitness centers came only after several different approaches were tried and found insufficient. Despite price changes, modified offerings and even “substantial cost-cutting,” the centers continued to operate at a loss. The national YMCA organization was contacted, as well as neighboring Florida YMCAs, to see if Sarasota YMCA’s fitness centers could be merged with another organization and thus preserved, but no attempts were successful. “We also spoke with important funders in the community seeking financial support,” stated the message from Sarasota YMCA, “but those efforts were not fruitful.”

As for immediate impacts: members will have access to both fitness centers through 5pm on Friday September 13, 2019; the last membership payment draft will be on August 15, 2019; members who have prepaid their annual or semi-annual membership fee will receive a pro-rated refund; programs and sports activities will not be continued past the closure date and refunds will be processed on a pro-rated basis.

However, the before- and after-school program will continue at the Southside, Gocio and Fruitville elementary schools.

“This is not the outcome we wanted,” the statement concludes. “Our hearts go out to everyone in the extended Sarasota YMCA family affected by this. The YMCA exists to serve the needs of the community and it will continue that mission through our foster care and social services programs.”

Sarasota YMCA

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