South DeKalb Y hit hard by dwindling membership, youth programs and partnerships
DECATUR—Hoping to halt a possible closure of the South DeKalb Family YMCA, a group of community members and YMCA advisory board members are holding a public protest on Wednesday, March 31, 5 p.m., to keep the facility open. The rally will take place outside the South DeKalb YMCA at 2565 Snapfinger Road in Decatur.
“The very idea of closing down a centralized, safe place where families, seniors and young people can congregate as we come out of this year-long pandemic is appalling and a disgrace to the community that has supported this YMCA for decades,” said Angela Graham, chair of the South DeKalb YMCA Advisory Board. “What we are essentially seeing is an organization that has placed profits above people and is trying to turn its back on families who have supported the Y. This act is a blatant contradiction to the YMCA’s mission and core values inclusive of caring, honesty, respect, inclusion and responsibility.”
Prompted by a Metro YMCA’s liaison’s communication regarding the facility closing its doors on Thursday, April 1, Graham and other local leaders quickly galvanized support to express concerns with the YMCA’s divestment in a facility that promotes health and wellness in an underserved community. Activist Derrick Boazman, former South DeKalb YMCA Advisory Board Chair and current DeKalb County Clerk of Superior Court, Debra DeBerry, Commissioner Larry Johnson, area faith leaders and more are calling on south DeKalb residents to stand in unity to stop the closure of the local family-centered facility.
“We have basically been blindsided by these covert actions to close the South DeKalb YMCA under the haze of the current pandemic,” said DeBerry. “We not only want the Y to remain open but for their Metro YMCA leadership to take a serious look at how their actions and values are misaligned and essentially contributed to the underutilization of the current facility. We intend to fight for the Y to stay a part of our community as people of all ages look to enjoy life after the current health crisis subsides.”
DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson, said permanently closing the facility would be devastating for the community.
“We stand with the South DeKalb YMCA Advisory Board and the community to keep South DeKalb YMCA open. I have been a member of the South DeKalb YMCA on Snapfinger Road now for over 30 years and have enjoyed the community involvement and camraderie among its members,” said Johnson. “Our son and daughter have attended summer camp there. It would devastate this community if this facility is closed. We must do everything we can to help it remain open.”
The YMCA of Metro Atlanta sent the following response to On Common Ground News:
Community leaders ask that residents send letters demanding the Metro YMCA reconsider their plans to close the South DeKalb YMCA by emailing Lauren Koontz at laurenK@ymcaatlanta.com. The rally is open to all members of the public.
Rally For South DeKalb YMCA Details
Date: Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Time: 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Location: South DeKalb YMCA, 2565 Snapfinger Rd. Decatur, GA 30034 (location may shift in the event of inclement weather. Please contact Terrell Gibbs, 404-368-2802, firstname.lastname@example.org for any location shifts.)
Speakers and Organizers: South DeKalb YMCA Advisory Board Chair Angela Graham, Former South DeKalb YMCA Advisory Chair Debra DeBerry, Commissioner Larry Johnson and more