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Letter to the editor: Pittsburgh YMCA has lost its mission

September 16, 2018

I’m angry. I’m a senior YMCA member and I’ve lost not only my place to exercise, but a place to socialize. I should also say that I’m the retired planning director for Penn Hills, and I’ve been involved with funneling considerable federal grant funds to the Penn Hills YMCA. I’ve consulted with previous YMCA officials, and gladly supported their efforts to serve the community. I can assure you that both municipal government and the community were proud and supportive of their YMCA.

Now YMCA officials are abandoning Penn Hills to save their downtown location. Have they lost touch with their mission? They came to Penn Hills recently for a town hall meeting and treated the community like second-class citizens while they tried to justify their plans that appeared to be a fait accompli.

Here’s their mission statement: “The YMCA of Pittsburgh builds strong kids, strong families, and strong communities through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.” It also talks about social services and building character. How does that fit with the YMCA keeping its downtown businessman’s facility at the expense of families in the communities that need the service?

Given a chance, the community could find a way to assume the mortgage and operating expenses and keep the building open. We paid for it in the first place. If this is a done deal, perhaps we have no other choice but to be angry. But we should act on our anger, send our charitable donations off in another direction, and not go down quietly.

I personally cry out to the YMCA to stop now, reconsider, and find another way.

Howard Davidson

Penn Hills

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