Daily Star photo/KATIE ROHMAN The YMCA board of directors send a letter to media regarding alleged terminations at the facility.

YMCA board releases letter

Published 4:46pm Tuesday, June 26, 2012

By KATIE ROHMAN and CRAIG HAUPERT

Niles Daily Star

The Niles-Buchanan YMCA Board of Directors has issued a letter to local media regarding what it refers to as the “leadership transition” at the facility.

Current and former employees have told the Star that seven YMCA staffers have been terminated; however, the letter — signed by board president Sara Bell and former executive director Bret Hendrie, claims otherwise.

The letter states that Hendrie resigned effective Thursday. The alleged terminations occurred the following day.

“Several other senior YMCA staff have resigned or are no longer with the organization as the leadership changes have taken effect,” the letter states.

Hendrie is quoted in the letter: “I have enjoyed my 16 years as executive director at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA, and I leave the YMCA in position for a strong future. I am proud of the YMCA, and I wish them the best.”

Bell says in the letter: “… we wish him well in his next endeavors.”

A search committee for a director has been created, and it will consist of the directors, stakeholders and community members.

Hendrie had no comment when contacted by the Star. Bell, a Niles attorney, did not return a message left Friday.

Michigan State Police Det. Doug Kill confirmed Tuesday someone from the Niles-Buchanan YMCA contacted him Friday about possibly doing an investigation. Kill said he hadn’t heard back from the YMCA as of 3:23 p.m. Tuesday.

Kill said, as of now, there is no investigation. Kill would not say what he and the representative from the YMCA discussed during the Friday call.

Fullenkamp confirmed Tuesday: “I believe it’s been internally resolved.” He could not go into further detail.

Current and former YMCA employees have confirmed the following seven are no longer employed there: Hendrie; Amy McKean, senior program director; Greg Schuman, membership and marketing director; Missy Young, finance; Penny Sobolewski, member service supervisor; Maycie Boyle, director of dance; and Brenda Lewis, dance instructor.

Boyle worked at the YMCA since 2006. She was also a daycare supervisor and worked the front desk.

She was told Friday her “(daycare) position was no longer valid.”

When Boyle asked if she could continue working there in another capacity, she was told, “No — you and your position are no longer valid.”

“I walked in at 11 o’clock to work my shift; at 1:38, I was asked to leave,” she said. “I didn’t know I was going to lose my job until I walked in Friday.”

Boyle taught several classes at the YMCA, including a new special needs dance class.

“I took over the program two years ago and built it up,” she said of the classes. “I started and implemented the special needs program.

“If you are laying off, you don’t start with the managers. You start at the bottom and move up,” Boyle said.

She claims the staff was a “very tight-knit group.”

Current employee Mindy Thompson is one of three supervisors still in the babysitting room.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” she said. “People (members) are concerned.”

“Amazingly, people are just stepping up and making sure things are getting done. We work with kids, and that comes from first,” Thompson said.

McKean was Thompson’s supervisor.

“She was an awesome boss,” Thompson said. “She was dedicated to that room. She cared about her job. Bret was a good guy, too. He cared about the Y. I think every person who was terminated cared about their job. It was a sad day, and nothing will ever be the same.”

McKean did not return a message by press time.

Fullkenkamp said classes are on schedule, and none have been eliminated.

“We haven’t had any gaps in service,” he said, but the YMCA is “evaluating where those gaps (in staffing) are.”

The board of directors will hire a director, and then that person will make decisions about staffing, Fullenkamp said.

“I’m creating some internal processes to take care of those needs,” he said. “I think it’s  pretty much business as usual. I’ve been on the job three days. We are very happy and proud we are able to keep services status quo.”

The board of directors contacted Fullkenkamp, of Battle Creek, June 20. He has been given a 30-day contract to “stabilize” the nonprofit.

Letter from the YMCA board president and former director Bret Hendrie

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