YMCA cites Va. example in pitch for community support


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, April 22, 2019

YMCA officials last week cited what’s happening in South Boston, Virginia, as an example of the kind of community support they hope to garner in Elizabeth City for the YMCA at the Pines.

Dean Mattix, vice president for northeastern North Carolina with the YMCA of South Hampton Roads, told the College of The Albemarle Foundation Board of Directors Tuesday that the South Boston community is now investing between $75,000 and $100,000 annually in the YMCA there.

Although South Boston is located well west of the Albemarle — across the state line from Person County, which is north of Durham — it is affiliated with the YMCA of South Hampton Roads.

The YMCA is seeking $100,000 a year in community support for its facility at the Pines and has asked both Pasquotank County and the city of Elizabeth City to contribute $50,000 toward its operation. The YMCA has operated the golf, swimming and leisure facility in a partnership with the COA Foundation since 2017, when the Pines longtime owner Bill Taylor donated it to the foundation.

Mattix noted it’s typical of a new facility, or one that’s coming off a merger or takeover, to run a deficit for its first one to three years as the new operators figure out what is needed. He said he had seen that in his own experience opening the Albemarle Family YMCA in Elizabeth City and the Currituck Family YMCA.

However, the YMCA’s corporate board will not continue to offset annual deficits of $200,000, Mattix said. That’s why the YMCA is seeking community support for the facility, including financial support from local government.

With community support the partnership will be set for the long term, Mattix said.

“But if we don’t solidify the community support it’s not going to be here for the future,” he said, referring to YMCA at the Pines.

Mattix and Travis Burke, a member of the COA Foundation Board who also serves as a member of the YMCA of South Hampton Roads Board, both made a pitch for county financial support for the YMCA at the Pines during a presentation to the Board of Commissioners last week. Commissioners agreed to study the proposal during their upcoming budget discussions.

Mattix and Burke plan to make a similar appeal to Elizabeth City City Council at an upcoming meeting.

In seeking the governments’ financial commitment to the YMCA at the Pines, members of the YMCA corporate board “just want the local community to have skin in the game,” Burke said.

Answering a question from a foundation board member, Mattix said the city and county governments in South Boston are part of the community partnership contributing to the YMCA there.

Burke told foundation board members he believes city and county officials ultimately will do something to provide funding for the YMCA at the Pines.

Mattix also used last week’s COA Foundation Board meeting to update its members on the YMCA at the Pines’ operations. He noted there is much more than golf in the YMCA’s vision for the facility.

“Where we’re going to go in the future is so much bigger and brighter than just the little white ball,” he said.

Mattix said he has heard people in the community ask why a community college has a golf course.

“It’s really not about golf,” Mattix said. “It’s about what can be in the future.”

About a third of the total revenue at the Pines is from business unrelated to golf, Mattix said. He noted the facility hosted 120 community events last year, including weddings, high school proms, and golf tournaments for nonprofits.

“It’s a real community asset,” Mattix said.

Answering a question from a foundation board member, Mattix said the YMCA at the Pines has 130 members now after peaking at more than 200.