Letter to the Editor

There is no grudge toward the YMCA

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dear Editor:

After taking a couple of days to mull over the article that appeared in Saturday's edition of Nevada Daily Mail and the words of Scott Theis, I feel I have an obligation to provide some facts Mr. Theis admits he did not know. If Mr. Theis did not have all of the information available to make an intelligent, informed summation, it is probably safe to assume others lack information also.

In January 2012, the YMCA and the city of Nevada Parks and Recreation Department partnered and offered a Youth Basketball program. The city approached the Y with the proposal because I had remembered the countless complaints I had received during my 8 year tenure at the Y regarding the unavailability of the gym all day Saturday and many evenings while youth teams practiced. The city offered a 50/50 split once all costs were taken out of the money received from registrations with games and practices to be held at both facilities. The Y accepted and the program went extremely well with many compliments coming from the community.

A couple of weeks after the program ended, a new executive director was hired. I was excited about the prospect of working with the Y on additional programming. However, my excitement was quickly squelched over lunch with the new director. He told me the Y could not afford to give up any revenue and they would not be willing to partner with the city unless there was no split involved. Knowing how difficult it is to manage a budget, I was disappointed but I could see his point. At that time, we decided each organization would continue their own programming but would not run the same program at the same time. With no other course of action, we continued our separate ways. I stood by that agreement and did not allow the same programs to be offered at the same time. This ultimately cost the city a good employee who left after I pulled a soccer program that unknowingly was going to run concurrent with the Y's program.

When individuals would ask me why we were no longer partnering, I did not feel it was ethical for me to speak regarding my understanding of the Y's financial situation. I tried to be cautious so as not to point a finger citing the Y as not wanting to partner. Instead, I tried to take a negative and make it a positive that would benefit the whole community. Little did I know, someone from the YMCA would twist my words in order to satisfy a personal agenda.

I spoke to Scott Theis on Saturday morning through text message and would like to share that with you. I wrote: "Shame on you, Scott Theis! You tried to throw me under the bus when you don't have all of the facts. When I started as Parks and Rec Director, [the recreation programmer] and I approached the Y and partnered with them on the basketball program. We did a 50/50 split that worked well. It was [a YMCA executive director] who shut that down as he said they needed all of the revenue. I don't have anything to do with this pettiness, why would you bring my name into it? Shame on you." (It should be noted I omitted names listed in the original text. Anyone could easily identify the individuals but I don't feel the names are relevant.)

Scott immediately responded with: "Dana, the reason I brought your name into it was the question was asked what was keeping the 2 of them, Y and CC from working together. We were told in a meeting long ago you said you thought the competition was good. True I didn't have all the facts, and I apologize. We are meeting in front of the board next month again, and I will make it right. I told them we'd always been friends, so that the only reason I knew was a personal reason. I should have known everything. I'm sorry and I'll fix that aspect of it, when I have the chance. Hope you are doing well, Scott Theis."

I believe competition is good. It forces each team, if you will, to aspire to be the best they can be. Professional athletic teams are founded on the same principal. Could you imagine what little improvement a team would make if they always played the same or lesser level of athletes over and over again? Neither team would move to the next level. Eventually, motivation would cease and status quo would become acceptable. I firmly believe a little competition between the Y's program director and the city's recreation programmer is healthy. It pushes both to offer the best programs for the community. Ultimately, that should be what everyone wants. Do I believe it should be done in an underhanded way or using shady tactics to try to discredit a past employee's reputation? Certainly not! Both parties should show a little integrity, put personal feeling aside, and do what benefits the citizens of the community.

Several years ago, I believed it might be a good idea for the YMCA to take over all community recreation programs. I knew the Y had available resources and the potential to provide excellent programming. It was only after I went to work as the Parks and Recreation Director that I realized that was not really a feasible idea. You see, the more I talked out in the community, the more people I found who where uncomfortable going to the Y for whatever reason. Now before anyone takes that negatively, I have to admit I found an equal number of individuals who were unwilling to participate in City programs. I realized it is about perspective. Believe it or not, some of our citizens had a great experience with a recreation program with the city professing it "changed their life". They only want their children to experience the same. They are not personally attacking the Y, and just to be fair, I know the same can be said for the YMCA. Both entities have unlimited resources and potential to offer programming second to none.

Let's talk about the programming. As noted previously, the YMCA and the city agreed not to run the same program at the same time. The city stuck to that verbal agreement. In fact, there is only one program I can recall that runs concurrent. But, what about the child that does not want to play the sport the YMCA is currently offering? Shouldn't he or she be given the opportunity to participate in a program at the same time? If the YMCA takes over the programming, isn't that limiting opportunities? So what if the YMCA offers basketball in December and then the city offers the program in January; what does it hurt? Perhaps the organized practices and games will groom one of our children to become a professional as many of our youth aspire to be.

The YMCA cites difficulty in recruiting volunteer coaches as a valid reason for a merger. I would challenge that volunteer coaches are always going to be scarce. Allowing one entity to take over isn't going to correct that. Go to any organization who utilizes volunteer coaches and I guarantee they will have the same complaint. People are busy and just don't have the time to commit. People don't believe they know enough to be a coach. People don't want to accept the responsibility. These excuses don't go away because of a merger.

So, should the YMCA and city partner? In my opinion, they absolutely should. But, it should be a partnership that benefits both parties and utilizes the staff talent each organization holds. Perhaps a good start would be allowing each organization to run programming, forming teams that compete with each other, and at the end of the day getting along without feeling a need to tear each other down. Should either organization give up their programs? In my opinion, that does not fit the mission of either entity. And, ultimately, isn't that the goal; to meet the mission?

In conclusion, I would ask that every time someone says I had a grudge against the Y, someone would take the time to point out the many times I have been available to assist the Y. Maybe the Y does believe I have a grudge against them but that is totally unfounded and false. I would counter that accusation with an example of a time I went above and beyond what was expected. Mr. Theis and others fail to recognize my actions. For instance, I recall a frantic phone call requesting cones for an event they were having the following evening. Although I had loaned the cones to the school, I worked with the Y to make sure the cones could be used for their function and then to have them moved to the high school in time for theirs. We worked together when it would have been much easier for me to just say "sorry". I don't want accolades for doing my job, but, I do want the blaming and finger pointing to stop. It is interesting how as humans we only remember what is applicable to our needs in the moment.

Dana Redburn