YMCA officials told volunteers last week that even building only a pool in Scarborough would not possible.

“We could do a pool just by itself, which I know the community wants, but a pool by itself doesn’t sustain itself,” Cumberland County YMCA Director Helen Brena said last Thursday night to a few volunteers.

YMCA officials met with volunteers two weeks after announcing the Cumberland County YMCA would stop trying to raise money to build a recreation center in Scarborough.

The YMCA raised only $1 million of the $9 million needed to build a full YMCA, said Brena. Only about $300,000 of that was in cash, the rest were pledges that would be paid over the years. The longer they tried to raise the money, said Brena, the more they added to the YMCA’s growing debt.

“At this point,” said Board Director Cyrus Hagge, “the board felt that with $600,000 spent, we really had no financial option. The challenge facing me as president of the board is now fundraising to pay down that debt.”

The reason the public wasn’t asked for last effort donations, said Hagge, was that it wouldn’t have made enough of a difference. The YMCA really needed the big donors to step forward to pay for the majority of the building. Only then, said Hagge, would public fundraising be effective. The YMCA never got out of that “quiet phase” of fundraising, said Hagge, when they try to find the big, private donations.

“We just could not find that leadership in Scarborough,” said Hagge. “It was just one ‘no’ after another.”

Hagge also apologized to volunteers for the last minute notice about canceling the project.

“The hard part was how do we stop the project?” said Hagge. “Do we call everyone and say, ‘gee, we’re going to stop in a bit,’ or do you just stop it? We apologize for any anguish doing it the way we did it caused, but we had to do it that way.” The reason, said Hagge, was to make sure rumors didn’t circulate among the YMCA staff before they had a chance to explain why it was stopping. “We had to be fair to those people,” said Hagge.


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