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
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 Guidestar.com)
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:
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.”
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.” (http://councilfor.cagw.org/site/ 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.
Defense of Nursing Homes
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.
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