Midtown Raleigh News

Vigil held for closing of YWCA of the Greater Triangle

Thirteen-year-old Ramiyah Robinson doesn’t want to see those affected by the closure of the YWCA of the Greater Triangle suffer.

“The people won’t have anywhere to go,” the seventh-grader said. “They won’t have resources to educate themselves and the opportunities they can use to advocate for themselves.”

Ramiyah and several others shared their memories of the good times they had at the YWCA during a vigil Sunday night at the facility on Hargett Street. About 60 people attended.

The facility ceased operations Wednesday amid mounting financial problems. YWCA Executive Director Folami Bandele has said United Way support of her agency dropped from $305,137 in 2008 to $200,351 in the current budget year, a 34 percent reduction.

Maria Spaulding, president of the YWCA board of directors, recently told The News & Observer the board realized in October the agency was in dire shape, primarily because it was not receiving enough grants to support its programs.

“People have been laid off of work, and participants have been displaced without any services,” former YWCA volunteer Robyn Burge said.

A letter handed out at the vigil addressed to the YWCA’s board of directors seeks for the programs, such as after-school care and Meals on Wheels, to be saved, and for the displaced workers to be paid what they are owed.

The decision to close means 14 YWCA employees are out of a job.

“This has been a staple in this community for 110 years. Yet again, another resource for low-income people of color has just fallen to the wayside,” Burge said.

Dejuana Alana fondly recalled coming to the YWCA as a child and how she would help out with many of the programs at the facility.

She worries about the effect the closure will have on the elderly.

“A lot of them depended on this Y for their meals, for their activities,” she said. “This was their gathering place.”

Donations are being sought to help the displaced workers, and Burge said volunteers and area churches and organizations are working to try to maintain some services.

A community meeting has been scheduled for 6:30 tonight at the facility at 554 E. Hargett St.

Burge said she hoped members of the board would attend so the laid-off workers and members of the community can get their questions answered.

Despite the decision, Ramiyah remains optimistic about the facility’s future.

“I think the YWCA is not going to close because we have too many people here who care,” she said.