Like so many, I am deeply saddened and shocked by the pending closure of Santa Monica’s YWCA on 14th near Pico. Yes, this is a YW, not a YM, and has had a chapter serving women in Santa Monica for 90 years. I have been teaching as a fitness instructor at this facility for over 30 years. When it’s doors close for the last time on June 30, the lives and friendships of so many people from infants to the elderly as well in addition to staff will be displaced.
What frustrates me the most is that members and staff were not informed about the pending closure until the decision was final. To this day, I believe that had the community and YW members been informed of shortfalls, we could have come together to rally donors to protect this wonderful facility and organization.
We are told the property is now on the market and that all bids will be considered. Many of us are hoping and praying that the board of directors does the right thing and chooses a bidder who will keep the property intact and continue to use its fine facilities for the community instead of selling to developers who will demolish it.
With all the talk of housing shortages in Santa Monica, it’s easy to overlook the irreplaceable value of a facility like the YWCA. Unique to Santa Monica, the YW has provided affordable services including day care, classes for children, adults, and seniors, especially important, as so many other prices have gone up in our city.
This organization has remained a unique haven for such programs as transitional housing for young women emerging from foster care, acclaimed day care, affordable after school classes, fitness and other programs that were for and about women’s issues in the world to name just a few things.
In my class and others there were women on scholarship while they were establishing themselves after having lost a job, a home, or a loved one. The YWCA lovingly and kindly cared for so many women at risk. It is a huge loss for Santa Monica to have its only YWCA dissolved.
I have been told that it is too late to save the YW, but I still hold out hope that there is an angel out there who cares enough to let us continue our path to educate and provide for the needs of women of all ages.
I am writing this to publicly encourage the YWCA board of directors to sell the property to an organization that will keep intact its wonderful gym, facilities and contribution to our neighborhood. It would be a shame to lose this property to the wrecking ball and private development when we are in such need of places that truly serve our community.