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Letter to the editor from Jim Aziere about the YMCA

          The YMCA came to Raytown with a powerful mission statement, a Christian label that sported a Board of Directors symbolizing the business magnets of Kansas City.  They built trust, asked for donations, and our community committed almost two million dollars.

          Their patrons today are sitting on blacktop: children, families, and seniors.  Their promises and commitment eroded from Social Darwinism, “survival of the fittest,” and we are YMCA victims.

          It rained Wednesday.  I stood on the YMCA pool deck before high school water polo practice watching water streaming down the walls below the seam of every joyce in the ceiling.  It has done this for years.

          I’ve worked in the YMCA 39 years.  I never dreamed I would outlive this facility built 15 years ago.  “Y,” what went sour? 

          The protective covenant signed by the YMCA in 1997 promises “to protect against  construction of improvements on building sites which are of poor design or quality….and good architectural planning standards….” and  “to conserve the value of the property.”  Filed in the State of Missouri.

          Now the building has a three million dollar lien, and 2.2 million dollars of deterioration.  Such a poor business record of a Board of Directors who eats the breakfast of champions.  Monkeyshine.

          I ask myself, “Why didn’t the YMCA live up to it’s contract, or who in the organization prevented that from happening?  Was there a conflict of interest?” 

          The YMCA credibility has eroded.  Its missions statement seems weak.  The contract it signed with Utilicorp means nothing.  They took our money, but they didn’t deliver.  If that wasn’t true, YMCA members wouldn’t be sitting on the street.

          The YMCA has lost the animation of its image.  Yes, Raytown struggles to survive  economic conditions.  Our property values were hit hardest in the metropolitan area.  People have been out of jobs.  The price of membership went up, patrons left.  Does that make our needs less important.

          From the “Byrd’s Eye view,” yes.  The YMCA needs a 40 million facility downtown, where children don’t live, and everyone has a job, for business people.

          Who heads the Board of the YMCA?  Allen Blair, an attorney.  The whole picture sizes up the motives of corporate leaders and our American legal system.

          I’m proud of Raytown, my home, a bedroom community.  We are symbolic of middle-class America.  We love what we do and give our best.  We don’t want a free ride, and we want to be able to pay our bills.  We aren’t weak or “unfit,” but we cannot keep up with rising inflation caused by Wall Street.  Our economy has left us behind.

          The YMCA picture leaves me sad, and hundreds of others too.   Many wonderful memories were tainted the final moment I walked out of the Richard C. Green YMCA  on April 12th. when it closed. 

          YMCA betrayal changes everything.  A corporation shouldn’t be allowed to have a “not for profit” tax status when it does not abide to the terms of a contract designed to protect the philanthropist. 

          In the past, when the legal system didn’t prevail, a national boycott worked.  I believe people should think carefully before they join the YMCA, or write a check for a donation. 

          It’s empty now.  The pool drained, lights turned off, doors locked.  ‘For Sale – 5.5 million dollars.’  Rain water will stream down the walls of a dark room on hot days, mold will thrive.  It will sit empty for years, testamoney to  the YMCA legacy.

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