CANYONVILLE — Several years of financial hardship combined with the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the South County YMCA to close permanently, it was announced Thursday.
“It’s unfortunate. We’re hoping we’ll be able to come back to the community here at some point,” said interim CEO Matt Lund on Thursday.
The YMCA of Douglas County’s Roseburg location, the only other YMCA in the county, will remain open.
Financial challenges were already present at the South County YMCA prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even before it closed its doors in mid-March, the South County YMCA was struggling with ongoing operating deficits of between $70,000 and $80,000 per year, aging equipment and low membership of about 200 residents of Canyonville, Myrtle Creek and Riddle.
And the Roseburg facility was subsidizing that loss. Now that it too has been losing money due to the pandemic, it couldn’t continue.
“The Roseburg Y has subsidized the South County Y for a long time, but during difficult times it’s so hard to subsidize operations,” said YMCA Chief Volunteer Officer Bob Dannenhoffer, who is the board chairman.
During the months the South County YMCA has been closed, the financial hardships have only gotten worse.
The South County YMCA is in a building that was originally a church and isn’t well designed to serve as a YMCA. It’s a small building, and if it reopened it would be hard to get very many people inside with the current social distancing mandates.
The decision was made to close the South County location in order to focus resources to keep the Roseburg location going strong, Dannenhoffer said.
The Roseburg location has also seen a financial downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic, but members are beginning to return now.
“Right now we are getting about probably a 30-35% return rate on what we just were in January and February,” Lund said.
Whereas the Roseburg location would ordinarily get about 1,000 people per day, it’s now getting closer to 300. But Lund said people are getting more comfortable with it, and each week it’s slowly picking up.
“People are still very hesitant, but there are some people that for their overall well-being, whether it’s mentally, physically or emotionally they’re starting to come back out and they’re glad to be part of the community and not be more or less quarantined,” Lund said.
Many people feel more comfortable after seeing the cleanliness and precautions the YMCA has taken to keep them safe, Lund said. The equipment has been spaced out for social distancing and hard-to-clean items have been removed to reduce the spread of germs.
“Those kinds of things people see and they go, ‘OK I feel safe here,’” Lund said.
The YMCA provides opportunities to improve community health through fitness classes, personal training, exercise machines and a swimming pool at its Roseburg location. It also hosts childcare, youth activities and birthday parties.
Lund said it’s important because while COVID-19 is very dangerous, the YMCA can help prevent or improve many other health conditions from obesity to diabetes to heart disease.
“We want to encourage people to come back out and be a part of the Y, and know that we are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe and that we are here for the community,” Lund said.
There is still hope that if funding improves, they’ll be able to reopen the South County YMCA.
“Our hope is that over the next year, we can get our membership base back at the Roseburg Y, and then once we get more secure in our funding and become more sustainable we will then hopefully be able to come back into the community and reopen the YMCA,” Lund said.
If things go well, that reopening could happen as soon as a year or two from now.
“We don’t want to permanently disappear,” Lund said.