YMCA – Profit or Non-Profit?

[This is Part I of a series of articles addressing the local Muncie Family YMCA – does it operate like a for-profit or charity non-profit]

As Muncie Voice has published in recent weeks, the health and wellness of Delaware County citizens ranks near the bottom of at least three well-known health indicators. Our rankings are some of the worst in the state, and Indiana falls in the bottom quartile across the nation.

With healthcare reform underway, and national obesity reaching all time highs, the coming decade will focus on personal and community health and wellness. Corporate relocation experts consider wellness indicators when determining locations for expansion and costs of health insurance, so expect this subject to be more newsworthy in 2012.

Corporations are also exploring wellness strategies and establishing work site fitness facilities making it more convenient for employees as they look to make our workforce healthier to offset rising healthcare costs and insurance premiums.

Our public sector is seeking ways to cut healthcare costs since they are also a large employer. Soon, our countries healthcare system will focus on prevention and personal wellness versus hospital visits and reimbursement rates.

For example, Delaware County employees will benefit from their own fitness facility in the location recently vacated by emergency management services. Muncie Voice will tour those facilities next week, and speak with their wellness coordinator.

One organization, which receives taxpayer subsidies in the form of its tax exempt status, is the Muncie Family YMCA headed by CEO Cathy Clark, and an executive board of directors. The YMCA is a non-profit 501c(3) charity organization with a mission of, “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”

As our local health has declined, you would expect this charity organization to become a leader of wellness campaigns and expand their programming into those areas which need it most – our southern and eastern portions of the city. Most philanthropists would expect that charitable organizations be located where they can make the most impact.

Instead, the Muncie Family YMCA, and it’s board of directors, has reduced its reach in south Muncie, and offers no programming assistance to Buley or Ross. However, they did open a second facility in Northwest Delaware County, one of our most affluent areas. The Northwest YMCA already serves this area, but a second YMCA opened in Yorktown during 2010.

Why would a charitable organization, whose mission is to improve the health and wellness of those who cannot afford services, be locating into our most influential neighborhoods? Why are county taxpayers subsidizing YMCA health club members in Yorktown, when the demographics of that area indicates they should be able to afford full priced memberships at a health club?

It might be good business practice to locate a fitness facility near more affluent populations, but the YMCA is a charitable organization, not a business. Correct?

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.
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