by Bob Geary
Updating this story from the Indy on Wednesday, the YWCA of the Greater Triangle's board did meet Thursday with Raleigh business and civic leaders, shutting ex-staffers and the press out of the proceedings. In fact, when some of us — staff and reporters — showed up at the meeting place (I went because Maria Spauding told me that board members would talk to the press afterward), we were informed it was private property and directed to leave the grounds. Understandably, I suppose, given that the grounds belong to Hospice of Wake County. People with terminal illnesses were living their final days inside, and the only visitors (other than the ones who came to this private meeting) were their families and friends.
The woman who asked me to leave said there was no place inside or outside where a bunch of camped-out reporters and staffers wouldn't be an intrusion.
I spoke with one person who attended the meeting. She asked not to be identified. She said it's undecided whether the YWCA facility will reopen. The YW's guests were sympathic/supportive, but they wanted to hear a business plan for retaining programs and—maybe—the facility, and the YW board didn't have a plan. So the only decision made was that the board should develop one and then call another meeting.
Since Thursday, the board has finally scheduled a sit-down with their ex-staffers. It's on for Tuesday — tomorrow — at 6 p.m. at Martin Street Baptist Church. The invitation reads:
Dear Former Staff Members of the YWCA:
The board would like to meet with the former staff of the YWCA on Tuesday, March 20 at 6:00 pm at Martin Street Baptist Church. Dr. Earl Johnson, Pastor has graciously agreed to facilitate this meeting. Our objective is to share with you what we know about current and future plans for repaying our debt and possibly reopening the facility. We are anticipating that the meeting will end at 7:30 pm. Please send regrets or RSVP to ...
Joan Vinas, President, on behalf of the Board of Directors
This followed a letter to the board from the 14 ex-staffers which you can read here:
One question in the letter:
"Have any of you donated to the workers' fund to help us pay basic bills? Here is the link
to make a tax deductible donation that will go directly to the workers’ emergency fund:
The letter concludes:
"We have shared with you some of the heartache and pain that displaced participants have faced since you abruptly ceased operations and displaced them. Now, we want to publicly share with you some of the situations we workers are facing that have been exacerbated by your unconscionable decision to abruptly shut down. Please hear our stories. Please do what is right.
These following quotes are from displaced workers.
“Our mission statement is to empower women and eliminate racism, but instead you are disempowering women and eliminating jobs.”
“I have a toddler in daycare and a son who is a sophomore at Howard University. I had to call him to tell him I was laid off. He rushed to an emergency meeting with the financial aid office to re-negotiate tuition payments. Then he headed to the Western Union to wire me his last $80 to help me pay the mortgage. This is my nineteen-year-old son, giving his family every dime in his pocket.”
“It is just the embarrassment of getting to this point in my life and not being able to pay my bills. I never thought that as I entered my sixties I would be faced with this dilemma. It has caused me so much anguish.”
“My fiancé passed away this year and I lost a baby. On top of that, we just started to recover from the tornado that put a tree through our house and we had to move. I finally came back to work and now I no longer have a job. I’ve gone through all the stages of grief. I don’t have a coping mechanism anymore. I am just burnt out. Where do I go and what do I do?”
“I worked so hard so that my daughter can have a stable life and not know the struggles that I went through growing up. This sudden lay off set me back and now I’m working overtime with little funds. We are trying to keep things normal so she doesn’t know how hard it is. We are struggling to get her birthday party together, even though we can’t afford it. She deserves some normalcy and a simple party for a little girl. We are struggling to pay our basic bills. We are just struggling in general, in every way.”
“Just this year, I paid off my college loans and our car payment. My husband and I finally started accruing some savings. We have about $8000 in savings now, which means we are much, much better off than the majority of my former co-workers. But with a family of four and monthly expenses around $4000, we will tap into our savings right away and it will go fast.”
“After 15 years of dedication to the YWCA, I just feel like you pulled the rug out from under me. Having no health insurance at this age is just so scary. I have no life insurance. I have nothing to leave my daughters. You didn’t even give us any warning so that we could get prepared. Those crucial, basic things that we need are gone. Now I’m a burden to my family. At this age, I should be helping my mother, but instead she is helping me.”
"I feel robbed of my dignity and trust because of the situation the YWCA has put me in. TRUTH+TRUTH = TRUTH! We deserve the truth."
We remain dismayed, shocked and grieving, and we continue to hope that you will do what is right and just.