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YMCA Suffers Huge Financial Hit As Membership Plummets

Debbie Holmes
Sign posted at Gahanna YMCA explains the closing.

Revenue losses for the YMCA of Central Ohio have led to the layoff of nearly 2,000 workers. Most locations closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We know that we’re estimating a little bit over a $20 million loss in revenue, because of the loss of membership and program revenue,” says Tony Collins, president and CEO of the YMCA of Central Ohio.

Collins says that 85% of YMCA workers have been laid off, including 332 full-time and 1,500 part-time employees.

In May, Collins says about 60% of YMCA members continued to pay their monthly fee, down 10% from April.

“Because of this economic crisis, a number of families have had to make a hard decision to put their membership on hold or even cancel for the time being,” Collins says.

The Central Ohio YMCA operates 15 facilities in and around Columbus. During the state's stay-at-home order, Collins says the organization has provided child care for essential workers. Those daycares are located at Kipp Early Learning Center, 2800 Inspire Drive, and at Hilltop Educare Center, 1952 W. Broad Street.

Collins says the YMCA also spent more money on helping the homeless to have a place to stay during the pandemic.

“We have ramped up and opened up four additional shelters, including a quarantine shelter, to help serve those folks who have been diagnosed with the COVID," Collins says. "So, seeing an increase as well as the need for decentralization has caused us to ramp up a considerable amount or more resources."

On Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that gyms and fitness centers can reopen beginning May 26, and child care centers can start up again on May 31.

“People need child care and people need a place to connect, and we believe that the Y is ready to do that," Collins says.

When the YMCA does reopen, Collins expects that safety procedures will be enhanced.

“We’re looking at everything we do from top to bottom,” he says. “Just like many organizations and businesses, we’re looking at distancing, employee as well as participant requirements to make sure that we’re doing things in a healthy and safe manner for everyone.”

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.