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She was told Friday her “(daycare) position was no longer valid.”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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  • letthetruthbetold12

    As a community member I am pleased with the board for releasing a statement that will hopefully put the imaginations to rest.
    As for the employees both current and terminated I would advise you not to release statements to the media as your words may come back to haunt you. If you chose to make a statement at least take time to read and reflect on your statements before submitting them.
    As a employer who has experienced situations similar to this in the past, maybe I am reading further into this than necessary but there are a few key phrases and words that capture my attention such as co-worker/friend and tight knit group, awesome boss, and good guy. If you are going to offer words such as those, please support them with facts or examples as to why you feel that way about the individual otherwise it has no purpose other than lip service. After viewing those key terms red flags appear in my mind thus causing me to think was this a friendship amongst those people thus causing lines of professionalism to become blurred? Unfortunately this happens to often that co-workers become close friends with their bosses which can easily cause a major disturbance in authority and professionalism and reasoning.I wish everyone the best in their next endeavors!
    It is sad to say that life happens without warning in many cases, someday you might arrive to work employed and with the blink of an eye you are unemployed.

  • mom2chris

    Really? I can’t say that my boss was awesome and Brett was a good guy? That makes it sound like we are crossing a line? Wow! I have never done anything outside of work with Brett or Amy…never! She was my boss and I respected her. I didn’t know Bret very well at all but I think he was a good person. What’s wrong with a work place being tight-knit? NOTHING. There is a difference between being tight-knit and crossing the line. I get that. For me personally, that never happened!

  • letthetruthbetold12

    mom2chris,
    I would first like to start off with a statement that I generally reserve for when I am teaching young students, I usually say to those who fail to listen ” please take another look at the words on the paper before you submit a response! Once you have done so, please check your work before submitting it”
    Let me summarize this to make it easier for you to understand:

    1. Please tell me where I said that you could not say that your boss was awesome or that Bret (correct spelling)was a good guy? I do believe I asked for supporting details as to why she is “awesome” and why you think Bret was a “good guy”?

    2. There is a lot wrong with being a “tight-knit” group! Was every employee considered to be part of this group? Was every employee treated equally among this tight-knit group?

    3. Are you still employed at the YMCA and part of this so called “tight-knit group”? Did the tight-knit group remain, or did it dissolve once the mighty 7 were terminated?

    4. You responded to the key things about Bret and Amy, why did u fail to defend your statement about a “coworker/friend”? Clearly this “co-worker/friend” is not worthy of defending? Why did you not make a statement about the others who were fired? They must not have been worthy of you to kiss up to? Word to the wise, Bret and Amy are fired, no need to sing their praises and attempt to kiss up, it will get you no where!!

    5. You again make yourself look non-educated by stating that you never done anything outside of work with Bret or Amy. Was that implied at any point within my statement? Or was that a possible accidental slip of the truth? Regardless of spending time outside of work together, did you have any type of communication outside of work?

    6. If you are currently still employed by the YMCA, I would beg them to please restrict you from making any public comments as you are making yourself look bad and your employer.

    7. There is a significant lack of intelligence from those who were fired, just read the dance instructors comment.
    ” I was told No- I cant have a job in another capacity, and I was told that me and my position were no longer valid” that statement says a lot about her character, would you agree?

    8. Lastly, those who are no longer employed by the YMCA got what they deserved if in fact the rumors are true about the way in which they failed to take their jobs seriously.

    Just a FYI mom2chris, you should study US History and become familiar with the corrupt power regimes that were taken down after years of abuse and corruption. All negatives must end!

  • inthecommunity

    letthetruthbetold12-
    Good morning, I understand this is a heated discussion. As a previous employee at the YMCA, which I left the job (full time 11+ years ago, part-time 3 years ago) to go into my current teaching position in a local school I have worked with some of those fired. While everyone has their faults and weaknesses I knew some of the individuals on a professional level only. I enjoyed working for them because they made my programs run smoothly and effectively. Treated me fairly and professionally.

    My concern in not necessarily with the Y in your response, but how you lashed out on mom2chris (whom I have no clue who she is). You compared her to your students and summarized for her to understand. Yikes, if I treated my parents like that, I would be written up by an administrator such as yourself. Not saying we are in the school system on this newspaper response, but I’m concerned that you identified yourself as a school principal and then treated a mom like this. I bet you are a great person, but just like you mentioned about checking your work before submitting. I just don’t want the community to see our schools and administrators like this. Do you call students the “mighty 7″ or names? You told this mom she should study US History, as an administrator with higher education, that could possibly be a slap in the face to a parent that cannot attend higher education at this time for some reason. I am not bashing you, just concerned with how words were exchanged when you stated you were a school principal in another response.

    I’m hoping you are not an administrator in my district.
    1. If you speak like this on a public forum, how do you speak to your employees?
    2. Same concept as #1, but to children and their parents?
    3. I’m concerned my children will have you as an administrator. As I’m assuming the mighty 7 would agree because most have children in our local schools too. Everyone gets frustrated and angry, but there is a time and place to release it. Out to the public to read and demeaning another human is not that time or place.

    Please take this as a learning opportunity as we all have room to learn and grow. I will NOT get into a “response battle” with you, I’m just watching out for our local schools.

    Again, not trying to tick anyone off, just stinking up for my profession and those who work beside me. Thanks!

  • FormerYMCAmember

    letthetruthbetold12,

    I have a strange feeling that you are way too close to this situation. In addition, you come across as a vindictive and bitter person. I pity the students who are forced to suffer under your instruction. Do you feel that someone has done you wrong? It might be that YOU are the problem in this whole afair! The truth might hurt but it needs to be said.

    Remember the old phrase “What goes around comes around”

  • mom2chris

    inthecommunity- thanks for your great comments! I appreciate that.

    letthetruthbetold12- If I am so stupid, how did I figure out so easily exactly who you are? You’re obviously involved personally in this situation and I don’t need to defend any of my comments. You sure sound exactly like the former disgruntled employee involved in this story. Or is it just a coincidence that you teach US history at a high school level. Why don’t you MAN-up and explain to everyone why you are behind getting these people fired. It’s sad that 8 people have lost their jobs and there’s only one side of the story being told. Until the other side comes out, I could care less what you have to say! If there was just-cause for the terminations, I’m totally fine with that. Why are “people” keeping quiet though and not stating the reasons behind these terminations?
    So, if you want to educate someone, go back to the classroom and leave me alone. I don’t need your 2 cents-it’s not worth much anyways. I will say that I feel terribly sorry for the students you are teaching.

  • mom2chris

    Oh, and I’m not hiding my identity. Why are you hiding yours???? Hmmmm.

  • letthetruthbetold12

    Inthecommunity,
    I respect what you have stated and yes I might have been a bit harsh in what I said. I have 36 yrs of teaching/administrative experience in addition to 4 yrs as an attorney. Sometimes, the mixture of all of those things come into play.

    FormerYMCAmember,

    I have just as much connection to this situation as the man on the moon does. My students both past and present have a great deal of respect for me. I have been honored in my community several times for the work that I do. Im sure that I have been wronged by a multitude of people during the 63yrs that I have been on this earth.
    Please explain what is meant by your statement of

    “It might be that YOU are the problem in this whole afair! The truth might hurt but it needs to be said.

    Remember the old phrase “What goes around comes around”

    How it is it possible that I am connected? My only connection to the YMCA is the $2,000 donation that my wife and I contributed to the YMCA. Also, my granddaughter took swim lessons there when she was younger.
    Having a legal background in addition to hearing stories around town, it puts me in the mindset of reading into things.

  • letthetruthbetold12

    Mom2Chris,

    please reread my statement, I am not a teacher nor have I ever taught History courses. I am a Principal within a school district.
    I have no idea who you are and Im pretty sure you have no idea who I am.

    Have a great afternoon

  • Mark Wallace

    After reading these responses, I cannot help but wonder if “letthetruthbetold12″ is not whom he/she portrays to be.

    As a community member of self proclaimed regard that is hiding under an anonymous name, I find that the condescending tone and subtle innuendo of vindication places this person much closer to the series of events than claimed.

    Why would a person with no vested interest in the employment of those involved weigh in so heavily?

    What strikes me is the misapplied attempts of intellectual superiority in the comments:

    …”I would advise you not to release statements to the media as your words may come back to haunt you. If you chose to make a statement at least take time to read and reflect on your statements before submitting them.”

    Advice given to those terminated to keep quiet. Why? Advice to reflect on statement before submitting them. Pot meet Kettle.

    …”If you are going to offer words such as those, please support them with facts or examples as to why you feel that way about the individual otherwise it has no purpose other than lip service.”

    Yet goes on to give hearsay examples of his/her own.

    …”I usually say to those who fail to listen ‘ please take another look at the words on the paper before you submit a response! Once you have done so, please check your work before submitting it’”….”or that Bret (correct spelling)was a good guy?”

    Misapplied attempts of intellectual superiority by correcting the spelling of a post, yet did not proof read his own comments for spelling and grammar mistakes.

    …”Did the tight-knit group remain, or did it dissolve once the mighty 7 were terminated?”

    Smacks of personal involvement. Were all members of management fired? If not why?

    …”There is a significant lack of intelligence from those who were fired, just read the dance instructors comment.
    ” I was told No- I cant have a job in another capacity, and I was told that me and my position were no longer valid” that statement says a lot about her character, would you agree?”

    Smacks of personal involvement. Why would a community member without vested interest comment on the lack of intelligence of the fired person by that comment? How would her comment give any clues to her character or intelligence?

    letthetruthbetold12 and another poster on the other thread (whom I suspect is a possible different account for the same individual)can somehow name Bret Hendrie and Amy McKean, yet cannot manage to use the name Maycie Boyle to describe the “Dance instructor”. The one that we are to presume isn’t very intelligent and has poor character traits.

    Do we have our smoking gun letthetruthbetold12?

  • letthetruthbetold12

    Scott Wallace,

    I do have a vested interest in the situation. My wife and I are on the wall of donors to the YMCA which gives me the right to take interest wouldn’t you say? Secondly, As a administrator I have been through this type of situation with my staff and in litigation with clients so for me its fun to analyze the situation
    Good thing you are not Sherlock Holmes, because you missed the mark on this one buddy! I have only 1 screenname and thats the one you see here! Also, if you read the previous quote from localbusiness it states “dance instructor”
    The words of the community will both positive and negative will most likely be shared during a time like this due to the fact that most have had a negative interaction with these individuals at some point.

  • Dave Fisher

    Good Ole Niles! Reading through these posts brings several things to mind. Before I delve deeper let me say I am not a “member”, a “Gold, Silver, Bronze” or even tinfoil level donor. I have been to the facility with 2nd graders to help boys get prepared for swimming and returning to class. I’ve also been there for therapy through Lakeland Healthcare.

    EVERY time I was there I was amazed at the level of activity going on around me in virtually every direction and studied the myriad of events, classes, and other activities posted. The effort required to make all that flow was, in my opinion a Herculean task for those who held those responsibilities.

    I had done considerable work at the former facility and had interacted with Brett an many occasions and found him always professional, diligent, and genuinely concerned for what was best for the Y.

    When I first read of the “firings” my first thought was it had to be something political (someone not getting their posterior kissed quite enough to their liking) the comments form “the truth” above kind of confirmed it for me.

    As for he “having a vested interest”, doesn’t everyone in this community? Oh I forgot, money talks right? Well my friend, CLASS whispers! Or simply chooses to donate for the good of the project and all involved. Never feeling the need to puff up and attempt to qualify themselves to pass judgement in a forum such as this.

    If things were so bad as to require a “bloodletting” of this magnitude, anything short of felonious conduct in my mind signifies a failure on the part of the board of directors. Multiple year personnel had been there under their watch and they were negligent in curbing whatever behaviors were so offensive or remedying the situation long ago. Maybe they were to busy patting themselves and the big donors on the back over the new beautiful facility they simply neglected to direct.

    The character played so well by Ted Knight in “Caddyshack” comes to mind. Judge Snells? Is that you?

  • Mark Wallace

    letthetruthbetold12 and ladies and gentlemen let me present my facts.

    …”How it is it possible that I am connected? My only connection to the YMCA is the $2,000 donation that my wife and I contributed to the YMCA. Also, my granddaughter took swim lessons there when she was younger. Having a legal background in addition to hearing stories around town, it puts me in the mindset of reading into things.”

    Yet you make statements to positively lay claim to knowing the character and intelligence of those involved even though you claim to not know them. You claim to only even be interested because of your alleged legal background. You claim that you are trained in the law, yet profess guilt to actions we as members of this community cannot infer based on the articles reported.

    You claim most have had a negative interaction with these individuals at some point. How do you know this? Quantify most. You claim you are not a member, and only are interested because you read this in the paper? As an alleged individual with legal background, you make assumptions of guilt based on insufficient evidence, I find that telling. If I am wrong, point to the passages in the articles that may help me to overcome my ignorance of the events.

    You claim that “I do have a vested interest in the situation. My wife and I are on the wall of donors to the YMCA which gives me the right to take interest wouldn’t you say?”

    So why the personal affronts to those terminated if you had no first hand knowledge? I too am a donor. Does that give me privy to insider information? No. Is my name on a wall? No. As a donor, I cannot speak to those events with such certainty as you do.

    In fact, you are a classic example of the internet today. You are either “patient zero” or closely involved with the situation. You log in with a telling title…Let the truth be told!? You quickly focus attention on the negative aspects of the individuals and not the actions (that none of us are privy to). You offer hearsay statements as facts, all while claiming impartiality.

    I enjoyed the jab of “Also, if you read the previous quote from localbusiness it states “dance instructor””

    Please excuse my improper capitalization. My apologies, and I will excuse yours as well. I will excuse the word salad of “The words of the community will both positive and negative will most likely be shared during a time like this due to the fact that most have had a negative interaction with these individuals at some point.”

    Please re-read your comments before you post. Once you have done so, please check your work before submitting it.

    Good day patient zero. Remember what the “C” in YMCA stands for.

  • letthetruthbetold12

    Mark Wallace,(AKA Dan Rather, Connie Chung,and or Regis)

    I have enjoyed reading your comments. Perhaps we should have coffee together and discuss this( if your not too busy with your schedule as a reporter)
    I too feel that you have a “close connection to the situation” but may be possibly hiding behind a screen name of a famous person. Could I be on to something??
    Overall, the situation has taken place, and we as a community will now have to help support the “mighty 7″ as they make their way through the unemployment line. Its too bad for them that Shantytowns are no longer present.
    In closing Mr. Wallace, if you have a problem with my post then STOP READING THEM! The “C” used to stand for Christian until the “mighty 7″ changed the “C” to Cancer! Now the “C” stands for “Clean” and “Christian”.

    Truly Yours,

    Patient Zero :)

  • Mark Wallace

    letthetruthbetold12,

    I am not sure what famous Mark Wallace you think I may be. Perhaps Mike Wallace? I am using my real name.

    Me being connected? No, sorry. Unlike you, this is not a ruse. I do not, nor have not worked for the YMCA. I also am not related, romantically involved, with any of those that were fired. I would not be able to pick their photos out of a lineup of other current employees.

    I am not pretending to be a former lawyer and principal of a school, yet post in a very immature fashion. You use ad hominems in your arguments with others. Your rhetoric reveals all that I need to know about you.

    I am done with internet posturing. You would never make the comments to others that you are here in real life. What administrative office in “the district” may I call on you for a meeting?

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