|CYC, YMCA Agree to Merge Into One Entity |
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
02:00PM / Wednesday, May 30, 2018
|After the CYC lost its home, the YMCA helped continue the program. Now, the two nonprofits have agreed to merge.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Catholic Youth Center holds a soft spot in the hearts of many city residents.
It ran youth programs out of its Melville Street location for many years. Members remember running basketball drills in the small court downstairs, getting pumped up for a tournament game before taking to the main court, reciting the "Our Father" before tip-off, the cheerleaders in the bleachers and the parents in the stands.
Those young men and women represented the churches they went to and the competition was fierce.
And now many more generations will have that sense of belonging and pride as the name will carry on after the YMCA board voted Wednesday to merge with the CYC.
"It's been around for a very long time. It has a history. It has nostalgia for the people in this year," said CYC Board President Corey Phillips recently.
But over the years and, as with many churches in the area, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield started cutting back. The CYC's building deteriorated and funding was running dry. The church sold the building five years ago to the Boy's and Girl's Club. The CYC board wasn't sure what the future held.
"At that point, we were just looking to survive," said Phillips, who joined the board in the wake of losing the building.
Berkshire Family YMCA Executive Director Randy Kinnas shares some of that nostalgia, that memory of the CYC's programs.
"As a young kid growing up in Pittsfield, I was a CYC kid. It is meaningful for me," Kinnas said.
Despite losing the building, the CYC didn't want to lose that meaningfulness. The board pieced together what it could and revamped its programs. It reached partnerships with the Gladys Allen Brigham Center, Miss Hall's School, Berkshire Community College, and city schools for use of their facilities so the programs could continue. The administrative piece fell onto the board of directors, Phillips said, particularly on him and Jeff Quinto.
"We were doing all of the marketing, all of the checking writing, all of the insurance," he said.
It wasn't sustainable and it wasn't the work a board should be doing.
"We needed more structure and, as a board, we saw that," Phillips said.
They started talking with Kinnas and, two years ago, the YMCA and the CYC reached a management agreement. The YMCA took over the management and that gave the CYC the organizational infrastructure it needed to continue operations. The YMCA hired the CYC's staff to run the same basketball, flag football and volleyball programs at offsite locations.
"We employed most if not all of the CYC staff during this management agreement. They've been running the programs and we provided the administrative function," Kinnas said.
And, apparently, it worked. Both the CYC and the YMCA boards of directors have now voted in favor of permanently uniting the two organizations. The two nonprofits will go through a full legal merger.
"Part of our agreement is to keep the fidelity of the CYC name," Kinnas said.
The CYC's basketball program, including the popular program for teens who don't play high school ball, volleyball and flag football will continue under the CYC name. It will continue at those sites with which the CYC had reached partnerships and will continue to be run by the former CYC staff members. The CYC will have up to four seats on the YMCA's board.
"We want to keep the CYC brand under the YMCA," Phillips said.
And those 300 or so CYC participants will now become YMCA members. That will give them access to the YMCA facilities at all times, even when there isn't a program going on.
"It gives them a place to be. Before they were in the program but didn't have a place to go," Kinnas said.
The YMCA hadn't run basketball or volleyball — though each sport was invented by the YMCA — and it will add to the YMCA's menu of youth programs.
"We can provide them more opportunities for youth programs," Kinnas said.
The merger had really started to take shape after the last six years. After reaching the two-year management agreement, Phillips said the CYC board wanted to find a way to sustain the program for another 20 years, not just another two when the agreement ended. The CYC contracted with Berkshire Nonprofit Solutions to examine possible long-term partnerships with a number of local organizations.
"We wanted it to last another 20 years and this gives us the best opportunity to do so," Phillips said.
The Young Men's Christian Association, now simply known as the YMCA or the Y, matched up with the CYC's philosophy and needs, Phillips said. After a year of the management and the findings of the Berkshire Nonprofit Solutions, the two sides started to engage in a conversation.
"It was a concept in the beginning and then talks stepped up in the last six months," Kinnas said.
Phillips added, "it made sense on every level to do this merger."
The management contract ends in June and the CYC meets next on June 14, where it would be asked to sign the legal documents making the merger official. Neither party expects any hitches in the continuation of the programs.