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Monroe asked to bring back YMCA contributions

MONROE — In the spirit of partnership to better the community, the Monroe Y has asked the City Council for funding assistance.
Martha Dankers, the board chair for the Monroe Y, made the pitch to City Council at its July 11 meeting, but did not propose a dollar amount. The request is to revive a partnership that was halted by the Great Recession and meet to discuss figures and programs.
Community funding, Dankers said, helps with swim
lessons for low-income members and their families. 
“It really helps for people who may not be able to normally participate,” Dankers told the City Council, adding that apart from swim lessons and a gym, the Y offers other programs geared towards kids, education and physical fitness.
With the city’s help, the Monroe Y can sustain the scholarship and membership fees assistance for the low-income families, representatives said. 
It would be picking up where the partnership left off before the Great Recession. Until 2009, the city and the Y had a partnership and money allocated for the programs. The 15-year, $2 million contract from 2005 helped bring the Y to town; it opened a $12.6 million facility on Fryelands Boulevard in September 2007. When the Great Recession hit, the city had to halt its $130,000 a year contract until the budget improved. 
“It had really worked well, it was a win-win scenario for everyone,” Dankers said. “But they had told us, ‘when things get better, be sure to come back.’ Well, we’re back.”
The Recession is over, and the partnership should begin again, according to Dankers and a few Monroe YMCA members who also spoke to the City Council.
“Because financial assistance was made available, I was able to go to the Y,” said active senior citizen Pat Larson. “The Y is a huge, wonderful escape, as well as a workout and it’s a wonderful freedom to go. It’s also about making friendships… there’s lots of connections you make there.”
A mother told the city councilmembers how important the Y was to her family through good financial times and bad.
She grew emotional as she told of her family’s relationship with the Y, from ballet and swim lessons, to a break due to financial stress. She now lives at the Housing Hope Monroe Family Village on W. Main Street and her family is able to attend the Y through a housing contract there.
Councilmembers agreed that the Y’s value to the community was large, and requested to bring it back as an agenda item to begin talks of re-instating the partnership.
Mayor Geoffrey Thomas said they will meet with city staff in the upcoming weeks to assign it to a city council meeting agenda for August or September. When the contract was recommended to be cut in 2008, Thomas for one rallied against canceling the contribution when he was a city councilman.

Information from the Tribune archives is included in this story

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