Lancaster Family YMCA, shutdown since mid-March for the COVID-19 pandemic, says it faces bankruptcy and permanent closure unless the community rallies to reduce its $5.5 million debt.
The YMCA’s board issued an urgent appeal for donations Tuesday.
Because of the pandemic, the two-branch, 15,000-member YMCA paused a proposed merger with eight-branch, 80,000-member YMCA of Greater Brandywine, based in West Chester.
The pandemic forced postponement of a March 26 vote on the merger.
And now Greater Brandywine is no longer able to serve as guarantor on the Lancaster Y’s loan, the Lancaster Y’s board of directors said in a statement.
"We are left with no choice but to halt’’ the proposed merger and face a possible "closing our doors forever and the need to file for bankruptcy,” the directors said.
William Hauber, board chairman, told LNP in an email that the Lancaster Y is 60 to 90 days from closing unless $1 million is raised to allow for restructuring the loan to a manageable amount.
Hauber said the hope is Greater Brandywine could again serve as the guarantor, perhaps leading to a merger that was in the work for months.
“We don’t believe this should be the end of the road for LFY,” the board said, “especially with so many people still in need of all the Y offers. Without additional immediate financial support to reduce the debt, however, we are out of options.”
The Lancaster Y had hoped the merger would lead to long-term sustainability of its operations, which include the City Center YMCA, 265 Harrisburg Ave.; the Lampeter-Strasburg YMCA, 800 Village Road, and Camp Shand, near Cornwall, Lebanon County.
Sale of the New Holland branch last fall and other steps helped reduce a $7 million debt by $1.5 million, the board said.
"We were gaining momentum, and we were working with the bank to restructure LFY’s loan with (Brandywine's) support as loan guarantor," the board said.
“Now is a time unlike any before” requiring “an unprecedented ask,” it said.