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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

YMCA receives enough pledges to escape debt

The North Central Florida YMCA received the funds needed to pull itself out of debt.

In December the Gainesville-based facility announced it would be closing its doors due to mounting debt, which spurred hundreds of community members to donate a total of $1.2 million to save the YMCA, located at 5201 NW 34th Blvd.

“We have almost 400 donors. There was an absolutely huge effort, and people were just really moved by the cause,” said John Bonacci, the CEO of North Central Florida’s YMCA.

Although the facility will remain open indefinitely, it still needs about $300,000 more for renovations, Bonacci said.

“Now the real work begins,” Bonacci said. “There’s a lot of work that has to be done to satisfy the courts, to rebuild the management staff, to try and get some fresh blood on the board of directors, the facility renovations — the list just goes on and on.”

Allison Nick, whose family has been a part of the YMCA since her birth, was surprised and upset when it was announced in December that it would be closing.

Nick, 25, goes to the YMCA almost every day to use the gym and take yoga and other wellness classes. When she was little, she practiced gymnastics and learned to swim at the YMCA.

“It’s been in the community for so long,” Nick said. “The thought that future generations wouldn’t be able to use it was devastating.”

At the beginning of the year, Nick joined other YMCA members to fundraise and ultimately save the place.

“We were so overjoyed to hear it would be staying open permanently,” she said. “When you care about something, and you’re willing to fight for it, it can be saved.”

Contact Molly Vossler at mvossler@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @molly_vossler 

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