This letter was originally sent by Jack Anderson to the YMCA of San Diego County and is reprinted with his permission.
I write this letter after reading the unsettling news in the Escondido Times-Advocate, that the YMCA of San Diego County intends to sell the Palomar Family YMCA facility. I am a 41-year resident of Escondido, and served on the Palomar Family YMCA Board from 1980-2003, including a term as Board Chair; and, I have remained a financial donor to the Palomar Family YMCA since that time. Since its inception, the Y has grown to meet Escondido’s needs both programmatically and through facility development with amazing philanthropic support from the community. The facilities that are intended to be sold are the result of community philanthropy and a commitment from the City of Escondido. The facilities are a capital asset to the YMCA Corporate entity, but more importantly, they are a community asset to the residents of the greater Escondido community. Countless residents of this community learned to swim, developed many critical life and leadership skills, maintained healthy lifestyles and received much-needed child care services from Palomar Family’s amazing staff leadership. As stated in the news article, “YMCA officials attributed the need to sell the property to the COVID-19 pandemic, which destroyed the Y’s programs last year.” Based on that statement, is one to presume that 12 months of COVID challenges, and their impact on our communities and nation (and presumably the other branches of the San Diego YMCA) are sufficient to remove an essential community asset forever? Is your Corporate Board satisfied to let a pandemic dictate your service provision capability… Or, are we all striving to overcome the pandemic and resume services even more strongly? Can one also presume that the YMCA’s mission; “The YMCA of San Diego County is dedicated to improving the quality of human life and to helping all people realize their fullest potential as children of God through the development of the spirit, mind and body.” is deemed to be completely fulfilled for the Escondido community? And, such mission fulfillment, determines that there is no longer a need for the YMCA to remain a critical partner with the Escondido community and its other serving organizations that support children, families and other community needs? What also troubles me is that the first inkling to the community of this drastic change in community resources came in a newspaper article. What effort was undertaken by the Corporate YMCA body to engage the community in this important decision? My personal and professional experience (27 years in various community leadership roles with the City of Escondido) was always driven by engaging the community through critical decision processes. I understand completely the challenging impact of the COVID pandemic, both from an emotional/social perspective as well as an economic impact. However, one does not allow such challenges to forever impact the value of a 50 plus-year serving relationship with a community.
JACK W. ANDERSON, Escondido
(Mr. Anderson is a retired US Naval Reserve Office and former assistant city manager of Escondido.)