A former employee of the downtown YWCA that closed abruptly in 2012 because of financial troubles wants to re-start the program.
Olivia Mudd, who worked as the economic empowerment program manager at the YWCA for three years, will host a community meeting Feb. 5 to discuss ideas about how to bring back the YWCA, which served the community for more than a century.
Mudd hopes the meeting will begin the process to earn official affiliation with YWCA USA, a national organization that could provide guidance.
The YWCA of Raleigh-Durham, which was located on Hargett Street, served thousands of people each month and offered a popular after-school program. The organization filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and gave employees only a few days’ notice when it closed.
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In 2013, Treasuring Christ Church bought the property and moved in.
Now Mudd, 51, envisions a new YWCA facility that would serve women and children, particularly in Southeast Raleigh.
“This venture could be historical for us,” she said.
The closure of the YWCA left a gap in services for many families in Southeast Raleigh, where most of the group’s efforts were focused.
Along with the after-school program, the organization offered women’s leadership programs and provided resources for families in crisis, Mudd said.
It also had a deep history in Raleigh. The facility was a safe place for residents to organize during the Civil Rights movement.
Some community members accused the YWCA’s board of directors in 2012 of not trying hard enough to raise money to keep the facility open. But closing was a last resort, said former board president Maria Spaulding.
“It was horrible,” she said. “I don’t know if anything I’ve done in my career has been that hard.”
Spaulding said she has offered to help Mudd’s efforts to reopen the YWCA, but she doesn’t expect she would be warmly received by everyone.
“Sometimes people don’t take kindly to someone involved in a negative thing, like shutting it down,” said Spaulding, who lives in Garner.
Mudd said she wants to move forward instead of focusing on what happened four years ago.
“I’m not going to build our YWCA off the past,” she said.
Mudd doesn’t know where a new facility could be located. But she hopes it would offer an after-school program, and other details could be worked out through community meetings and a future board of directors.
First, Mudd hopes to become licensed by the YWCA national organization. Then the local group would need to establish formal rules, create a governing board, raise money and make a budget.
YWCA USA can help with all of that, said Casey Harden, vice president of strategic initiatives and membership. She said the organization provides training and encourages founders of local YWCA chapters to follow good practices to help prevent closure.
If you go
A community planning meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, at Treasuring Christ Church, 554 E. Hargett St., Raleigh. Participants can discuss the possibility of reopening the YWCA in a new space.