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Mission Abandoned

To the Editor:

Your recent stories on the Capital Region YMCA and the threatened closure of the downtown Albany branch [“Doors Open,” Jan. 7; “You Wanted New Members . . . ,” Feb. 18; etc.] are just more examples of the Y abandoning its mission of service and operating more and more like a profit-oriented business. Their Web page states: “The YMCA is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy, spirit, mind and body for all.” The national YMCA statement includes: “In its own way, every Y nurtures the healthy development of children and teens; strengthens families; and makes its community a healthier, safer, better place to live.” Somehow, closing a facility that is used by some of the most in need of such services doesn’t seem to uphold this stated intent.

As a 501 C3 not-for-profit organization, the Y enjoys tax-exempt status, while fulfilling less and less of its tax-exempt purpose. The continued neglect of inner-city branches and the building of huge, beautiful facilities in middle/upper-class suburbs belie their intentions and should cause taxpayers (and the IRS) to take a closer look at the tax-exempt status of this organization. A peek at the Capital District Y’s tax form 990 from 2008 (the most recent available on indicates that the local YMCA organization obtained nearly $1M in government grants to assist in their programs. They collected almost $15M in membership dues and fees. A quarter of a million dollars pays Mr. Brown’s salary.

By adding gleaming new “fitness” facilities in outlying areas, often accessible only by car, many of the service programs offered by the Y have been put on the back burner, and their activities directly compete with tax-paying businesses, most notably, gyms and fitness centers. This trend has been going on for a while, as noted by the Citizens Against Government Waste, who first issued a damning publication in 2003. Among its findings at the time:

“When YMCAs build state-of-the-art fitness centers catering to the well-to-do, the result is a lower tax base and the loss of revenue and jobs by for-profit facilities. The IRS must begin to collect UBIT from the noncompliant YMCAs and require that each YMCA facility adhere to its nonprofit mission. Otherwise, YMCAs will continue to flock to affluent residential areas, low-income communities will fail to be served, unfair competition in the fitness market will go unchecked, and hardworking taxpayers will continue to pay more than their fair share of taxes.”

“For YMCAs to maintain their tax-exempt status, they must ‘benefit a substantial segment of the local population.’ Yet, 65 percent of current YMCA members indicate that they only utilize the health club services, and many YMCA facilities cater to the well-to-do.” ( PageServer?pagename=reports_ymca)

It is apparent that this trend by the Y to move its “services” from areas of need to areas of want is abdicating its charitable mission and should be treated (and taxed) as the business that it has become.

Diane Nolan



In Defense of Nursing Homes

To the Editor:

Thanks for a great article on that idiot Mike Breslin [“Mr. Breslin’s Vision,” Jan. 28]. We should all be screaming about his plans to eliminate nursing homes.

Both of my parents, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, spent the last five years of their lives in ACNH after it became impossible to care for and keep them safe at home. With few financial resources, home health care was far too costly and/or unavailable. They needed to be supervised 24/7, restrained from running away, setting fire to the kitchen, giving out their personal information to telephone solicitors, and on and on. Neither my sister nor I could afford to quit our full-time jobs to care for them, and did not have the physical stamina to lift, chase, medicate, toilet, feed and bathe them.

I don’t know what Breslin is thinking. Certainly not of the welfare of the elderly or their families. My mother and father received the absolute finest care at the Albany County Nursing Home. Everyone we came in contact with was helpful and kind, and treated their patients with respect and affection. It was a priceless experience for my parents, who were able to spend their final days together in a facility that was close enough for their children and grandchildren to visit them often. As we Boomers keep aging, I foresee an increasing need for more and better nursing homes, not the reverse. We had better be prepared.

Barbara Vink


Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters addressed to the editor. Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length or clarity; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are anonymous, illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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