In June of 2016, YWCA members, donors, volunteers and friends of the YWCA Santa Monica/ Westside received an email from the YWCA Board of Directors stating that after 90 years of service to the Westside community, the Board of Directors had decided to close.
Stunned, shocked and dismayed, I contacted seven YWCA volunteers, including five Past Presidents and two volunteers. We decided to meet with the current YWCA leadership to find out why they were closing and what they were planning to do with the very successful Housing and Education Program for emancipated foster girls.
We met with the current board chair, their current interim Executive Director and another member of the Board’s Executive Committee. We were told that they felt the YWCA programs were no longer fundable. We were told that the board had been dealing with this issue for more than four years and had finally made the decision to close. We asked specifically about a sizable gift that had been given to the Housing and Education Program by a donor several years earlier and were assured that only a small portion of the funds had been used, and that the YWCA was not in financial trouble.
We further asked that if we found a donor to purchase the property and keep the housing program going would they consider it and they that said they might consider it-no promises.
We learned shortly after that meeting in July, that the YWCA, with the guidance of a Realtor, put out a bid to any and all entities who might be interested in purchasing the property-no guidelines for a purchase price were given. It was stated that by early August the board would meet, review the potential buyers’ offers and a decision would be made.
No decision was made, despite the fact that a local non-profit, with great support from our community, put in a bid to purchase the property and keep the Housing and Education Program going. This non-profit, WISE and Healthy Aging, was not only told no, but emphatically told by the Realtor in August that it was exactly what they didn’t want to see.
Last month, WISE and Healthy Aging again submitted a bid to purchase the property in response to another request for bidders, which stated that a decision would be made in December. As far as we know, no decision has been made and the board has yet to communicate to WISE about their genuinely thoughtful offer – one that has enormous community support and that would have kept the buildings, kept the Housing and Education Program and added improved programs such as intergenerational childcare.
Now, YWCA furniture is being put out on 14th Street and organizations are being contacted to determine if they want any of the furniture, appliances or office supplies. One wonders if a decision on a buyer has, in fact, been made, and what the disposition of the endowed funds for the Housing and Education program will be. Our community deserves an answer.
Sally Young, Past Executive Director