Local/State

Supporters call for YWCA to reopen

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Former staff and patrons of the recently closed Raleigh YWCA gathered outside the building's front gate Sunday to protest the sudden shut down.

The facility on Hargett Street shut down unexpectedly Wednesday after more than 100 years of serving parents, children, and a community that depended on its services.

Director Folami Bandele said the reason for the closure is the recession. She said money ran out after state funding cuts, a shortage of corporate giving and a tight economy.

"It's very difficult to raise money in this climate," said Bandele.

Last October, the YWCA eliminated six positions. About two weeks ago, nine more. Wednesday, the remaining 23 staff members were let go.

Last year's budget came in at $2 million.

Angry signs hung outside the building Sunday blasting the YWCA's Board of Directors for suspending its programs.

The group said they are also accepting donations for the families the YWCA served and the displaced workers.

Meanwhile at least one person has already resigned from the board since the decision was made.

Laid-off employees expressed outrage.

"If you were laid off within 24 hours and didn't get a paycheck, I think you'd be disgusted," said former employee Omisade Burney-Scott.

Supporters said the YWCA was too vital of an organization to let go.

"There is nothing else like it, and it's all driven by donations and grants," said Dorothy Ashworth. "It's been a rough time."

The YWCA faced deep financial problems for years.

In its latest available tax filing for 2009, it was more than $800,000 in debt.

There is a chance enough money could be raised to start up YWCA programs again.

A community meeting is expected to take place Monday to discuss the possibility.

The YWCA served more than 12,000 in southeast Raleigh and Wake County.

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