The Melrose YMCA and Greater Lynn YMCA are merging into a single organization after more than a year of working together under formal management agreement.
Bruce Macdonald, CEO of the Greater Lynn Y—which includes the Lynn Y, Saugus Family Y and Torgian Family Y in Peabody—said that each Y's board of directors voted unanimously last week in approving the merger. The next step is filing a petition with the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Office and a pile of paperwork, with the goal of making the merger complete by the first of the year.
The two Y's entered into a management and resource-sharing agreement last April, shortly after new Melrose Branch Executive Director Diana Brennan arrived.
That agreement made Macdonald the CEO of the Melrose Y, and in April this year, the agreement was . Melrose Y board members Peter Nuytkens, Pam Gormley, Mark Garipay and Charles Whipple worked on a task force that undertook an in-depth review to determine the viability of a permanent merger.
"The thing that’s nice about this is it’s not like two different organizations getting to know each other," Macdonald said. "We’re very familiar with what they do and they feel familiar with us. We’ve made pretty much a lot of the staffing changes. We have a great staff over there right now and it’s really turned the corner and doing well."
Brennan, who will remain the branch director, said the next two and a half months will be spent on the behind-the-secnes specifics—determining employees health insurance plans, regular insurance plans, payroll companies and so forth—that won't have much, if any, noticable impact on Melrose Y members.
"We’ve already been working so long with them, for the past year and a half, that the real logisitics that would affect programming and membership, those have already taken place," she said. "That’s why we’re doing so well in Melrose. It’s sort of a Cinderella story for this Y. With the help of the Greater Lynn Y, we’ve come to a really great place."
Changes over the past two years
The original management agreement put an administrative framework in place after the Melrose Y took a hit in 2009, when the arrest, indictment and of former employee James Conner led to state sanctions—since lifted—and an overhaul of the Y's management and Board of Directors.
According to the Melrose Y's 2009 tax forms, in 2008 the organization lost $115,584. A year later, it lost $674,044. In April this year, Brennan said that "it looks like we'll be right around breaking even" for 2010, and this week she said the organization is on stable financial ground.
"It’s not the Lynn Y saving us anymore—we could truly stand on our own, and if we couldn’t I’m sure the Greater Y wouldn’t want to take on a sinking ship," she said. "We have recognized that joining forces with them will allow us to do that much more in the community.
Since last year, the Melrose Y has undergone a number of changes, from obtained financing from MassDevelopment for tax-free it previously leased in Stoneham, to .
"It’s really hard for Y’s to remain independent these days," Brennan added. "It’s really exciting. It’s so exciting and it’s coming form a really good place. The Melrose Y is in a really good place, and if it weren't, this probably wouldn’t be a possibility. We’re taking two strong organizations and putting them together. The amount of growth we’re going to see, I think, is going to be exponential over the next year."