Kern County YMCA Closes

It's The End Of An Era For Kern County And The YMCA

The county YMCA has battled for more than a decade to stay open but because of a combination of poor location, loss in participation and funding, it had to close Friday.

"It's just a sad day. Sad day for us and a sad day for the community," said YMCA Kern County CEO Clete Harper.

After 85 years of serving the community, the YMCA closed its doors for good today.

"It's a travesty," said David Wilkerson, former YMCA chief volunteer officer.

It was a place to keep kids occupied and out of trouble and families to spend time together.

"The beginning of the end for Kern County's YMCA was 1996," said Harper.

That's when its board of directors sold the facility on 22nd and P streets.

In 2002 they moved to District Boulevard.

"We're here in an industrial area. We're not near any schools, no visibility and our program has steadily dwindled," said Harper.

It also suffered a decline in participants.

"The era when it was booming was most popular was when families still had dinner together, they did things together, and they went to the YMCA together because it was a family YMCA. There was something for parents to do, for kids to do," said Harper.

But in today's society, "You have both parents today working. Its just a whole different environment," said Harper.

But the nail on the coffin was financial.

"We needed $100,000 per year of community donations and we were getting about $20,000," said Wilkerson.

The YMCA needed $200,000 dollars by today to pay off debts and stay open.

"Everybody thinks the YMCA is a wonderful program but nobody wants to step up and finance it, support it," said Wilkerson.

Now that it officially closed and ended its membership with the national YMCA, to re-open it would cost $1 million.

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