THIS IS THE FIRST OF 2 LETTERS BOB & LIZBETH MAILED TO EACH OF THE SAN DIEGO ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBERS:
January 14, 2015
Dear Corporate Board Members: We are two people practically “born” into the YMCA. Lizbeth is the daughter of the founder of the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA and the granddaughter of its namesake. Bob is the son of the first Executive Director of the same Y; then called North Coast Family YMCA. Between the two of us is over 100 years of involvement with the Y following lifetime involvements of our fathers. Although we both serve on the Board of Management of the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA we are in no way representing our Board in this letter. We send it as concerned members of the Y family. As such we are contacting you today concerning issues not specific to the Ecke Y but to the Association as a whole.
We’d like to start by thanking you for serving on the Corporate Board of Directors for the San Diego Association of the YMCA. It is a very important role that impacts thousands of children and families throughout San Diego. Because of our long term involvement and love for the Y we feel compelled to bring to your attention some serious concerns about the direction the Corporate Y has been heading the last few years. We are concerned about the fundamental changes that are being made to the structure and function of the San Diego Association. These are not operational issues. Instead, they cut to the core of our mission. It is our hope that this letter will prompt you to individually think about and collectively discuss the following major concerns:
1) Elimination of the “Youth Membership” discount pricing category. For many years, our Association (and many other Associations) have prioritized youth with special discounted pricing. The Youth Membership discount has, for decades, allowed access to our programs at member rates. It encourages a family with children under 13 years of age to choose the Y even if the family does not see the value of a family membership. In approximately May of 2013, THQ mandated the elimination of Youth Members across the entire Association. Soon children will no longer be able to join the Y without being part of a family membership. Two common themes have been expressed to us repeatedly when asked about the benefits of eliminating Youth Membership: 1) The San Diego Association is one of the last Associations to eliminate it. This is simply not the case; and 2) The elimination will result in the growth of family memberships that will make up for any lost youth members. This also does not appear to be the case. For geographical, competitive and financial reasons, there are many families who simply cannot join the Y. There are many that cannot afford the non-member rates for Y Programs and asking participants to fill out Financial Assistance applications is not the answer for these families. They will take their children from the Y and the entire connection is lost.
2) Re-direction of significant funds from the branches to THQ operations and centralization. A dramatically increasing percentage of locally generated funds is being directed from our Y Branches to THQ. The monies are in the form of “G.O.” support and other means. What effect will this have on our mission? As members and donors see their donations leave their community, will the donations subside? Will centralization of traditionally branch functions such as hiring, maintenance and child care impact the local branches ability to address the special needs of their unique membership? Does dictating that all branches have the same work out equipment allow for local needs to be met?
3) The lack of a clear multi-year strategic plan that is backed up with fiscally sound financial analysis and projections. Any organization of this size should have a written 3 to 5 year plan along with a longer term plan that has been discussed and fully vetted by the Corporate Board as a whole. Without a written plan that contains projections and direction it is impossible to evaluate the value and impact of changes in membership types, advertising efforts, branch expansion, marketing efforts to increase membership, the centralization of services, etc.
4) Employee Satisfaction. Provided below is a link to the comments from what we understand to be Y employees responding to an article naming the Y one of the 10 coolest places to work: http://blog.octanner.com/culture/top-10-coolest-companies-to-work-for-in-san-diego. Y employees have traditionally been an amazing and dedicated group. Any change in that enthusiasm cannot be a positive for the Y. We believe these issues, and more, are having a significant negative effect on our mission and our Association. We sense that conditions of a wide variety are deteriorating at the branches because of these and other circumstances. There are, we believe, many that share our concerns. As a matter of disclosure: Over the past several years we have personally discussed our concerns with Corporate Staff and some Corporate Board Members. We welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with you further. The communication between those who have legitimate questions and those who must make difficult decisions will be the key to our continued success. We have included our contact information below.
Best regards, Bob Ayers & Lizbeth Ecke
[NOTE: No Corporate Board Member who received the letter provided a response to Bob or Lizbeth. Nevertheless, about 3 weeks after this letter was mailed, Bob & Lizbeth were asked to leave the Ecke Board because they went outside the perimeters of its Board governance and wrote a letter to the Corporate Board of Directors without the Ecke Board’s knowledge or approval].
THIS IS THE SECOND LETTER WE MAILED TO EACH OF THE CORPORATE BOARD MEMBERS:
June 13, 2015
Dear Corporate Board Members:
This is likely our last effort to reach out to you. You know by now that we don’t just have questions. This time we have grave concerns. We implore you to take action. If you still believe, as described in Ron & Barons’s email letter to you on Friday that this is an “inconvenience” a “bump in the road”, “distraction” or just an “Ecke YMCA” concern, we hope the following will make you reconsider.
Enclosed with this letter you will find:
1) Our email to THQ and Corporate Board Leadership sent 6/8/15
2) Our prior letter to you dated 1/14/15
3) A small compilation of messages we have received
4) A letter of impact we’ve received (one of many)
We have clear and convincing documentation to back up the majority of the allegations referred to in the attached material. Baron is working hard to marginalize and discredit us. He wants to convince you that all is well. The anonymous email you recived on Thursday evening shuld reinforce the things we have been telling you. New and additional information is coming to us everyday from every corner of the Association and from staff at the highest levels. There is a momentum that cannot be reversed. To us, the solution is obvious.
We request an expression from you that a change is in place within the week. We don’t feel the situation “as is” can continue on any longer. If we hear nothing we will then share our concerns and findings with those who are listening. We have considered this carefully and we fully realize the impact that the next step could have. You have the ability to resolve these matters internally; once again we implore you to do so.
Sincerely, Bob Ayers & Lizbeth Ecke
[NOTE: Just as before, no Corporate Board Member who received this letter responded to Bob or Lizbeth.]