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YWCA in Batavia announces closure, immediate termination of all programs, including domestic violence

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

After several weeks, nearly daily meetings with the Board of Directors and many sleepless nights, YWCA Executive Director Millie Tomidy-Pepper and board members made a decision Monday that will affect agency employees, programs and services.

“The cash position is such that we can’t continue to operate,” Tomidy-Pepper said. “When I was interviewed I was told that there was a first quarter cash-flow problem. Ever since I began here I have uncovered that it was much more than that.”

As a result of lack of funding, all YWCA programs are going to cease immediately. Those include domestic violence, before and after school child care, courthouse daycare, a food reimbursement program for home daycare providers, and crisis helpline services.

This move will put 36 YWCA staff members in the unemployment line, however, she doesn’t know if there will be anything for them when they get there.

“The history of the organization using an unemployment services trust, and the fact that it was not kept up-to-date by being paid, it’s questionable whether employees will be able to get unemployment insurance,” she said.

Tomidy-Pepper has been executive director since Feb. 5. During the interview process nothing was disclosed about the current fiscal condition of the nonprofit. The agency’s financial records are in such disarray that an audit cannot be properly conducted.

“We’re working to keep the doors open but right now we have to close, and we’re reviewing the finances,” she said. “There’s considerable longstanding debt and there’s no money on reserve to get us through this situation.”

The lack of funds is further exacerbated by a maxed-out line of credit and credit card, she said.

“I was not made aware of any of this,” she said. “I thought I could get past the first quarter, but there’s a mountain of debt and this has been a longtime problem. The finances are being looked into in depth.”

 A veteran executive, Tomidy-Pepper was assistant executive director of the Mental Health Association in Genesee County for seven years and another 12 years as executive director. She not only ran a nonprofit with a balanced budget but one with a surplus, which demonstrated her understanding of expenses and revenue and her management skills.

“I want my reputation to exceed me,” she said.

The site at 301 North St. will remain open to accommodate current tenants and My Sister’s Closet Boutique, a women’s and children’s clothing and accessories thrift shop.

The agency has been the sole provider of domestic violence services in Genesee County and has served about 650 new victims each year. The agency has also provided before and after school child care for hundreds of families and answered the call for thousands of people in crisis. It is uncertain as to how those people will be taken care of in the future.

The board, which has grown from four to 11 members since Tomidy-Pepper took the helm, will embark on a “Save the YWCA” campaign. Up to this point the new executive director has experienced open arms to welcome her.

“The community has been reaching out to help us any way they can,” she said. “We have been working day in and day out trying to figure out what happened and how to put a plan in place to move us forward.”

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