Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Sometimes good things happen, and sometimes bad things happen. What is about to occur is a bad thing. Today I received a call from one of the people who had originally been a fund raiser and donator for the building of the Glendale/Peoria YMCA located on the Arizona Christian University at 59th Avenue and Thunderbird.

Here is a copy of the letter he shared and I have transcribed it below as well:

“May 7, 2021

“Dear Glendale/Peoria YMCA member,

“Thank you for being a supporter of the Valley of the Sun YMCA. Members like you allow the YMCA to provide programs and services to the communities we are part of and increase our commitment to Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. The YMCA is more than ??  (unreadable due to copy transmitted to me) years old here in Arizona and during that time has operated programs inside and beyond YMCA ?? (unreadable).  We want to take this opportunity to tell you abut a recent decision that impacts the Glendale/Peoria branch and your community.

“The YMCA staff and leadership have made the decision to cease all operations of the Glendale/Peoria YMCA effective Friday, July 2, 2021. Arizona Christian University will take over the YMCA and use the facility to serve their students. This is an amazing opportunity for the student body.

“Although the Glendale/Peoria branch will be closed, the Valley of the Sun YMCA will still continue to serve the community through its other 13 branch locations. We would welcome you to stay as a member!

“We recognize that this change in location could cause inconvenience, therefore we will automatically cancel    your membership effective July 2, 2021. No bank draft will occur after July 2, 2021.  If you wish to stay a YMCA member, please reach out and we will honor your current membership at one of our branches through 12.31.2021. For any membership inquiries, please email us at membership@vosymca.org.

“Thank you for your continued support of the Valley of the Sun YMCA and for allowing us to serve you. We hope to continue serving you at another location. Please visit our website for all locations https://valleyymca.org/about- your-y/locations/.


Libby Henry

Executive Vice President

Chief Operating Officer”

Let’s review some facts of the situation. When ASU sold and/or transferred land, formerly known as Thunderbird International School of Graduate Management, to Arizona Christian University, the site of the Glendale/Peoria YMCA was not part of the deal. Glendale’s senior staff and city council worked to ensure that the YMCA would continue to be there to serve Glendale and Peoria families. Right now it has a little over 300 families as members.

 Did you know the facility was built by fund raising resulting in donations from private citizens in Glendale and Peoria? In fact, Jerry Moyes donated a half million dollars for the basketball court. This facility was a result of the blood, sweat, tears and financial investments of ordinary citizens who recognized the need and stepped up to solve the problem.

If it were to close here are the nearest 3 locations. None of them are close by or can be considered convenient.

The rationale for closing the Glendale/Peoria facility is that attendance is down. Not good enough. As a result of Covid, it and everything else, has been closed for a period of time. Attendance can be assumed to be down at all of their facilities…not just this one… but at all of their 18 facilities.

Ms. Henry became Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in August of 2020, less than a year ago. Her agenda to remove one of the three existing facilities serving the entire West Valley is misguided and misplaced. Phoenix hosts 4 facilities and Scottsdale has 2 facilities. Perhaps one of them would be a better candidate for Ms. Henry’s cost cutting scenario.

Although the Valley of the Sun YMCA, as non-profits go, is not poor. Here is their 2019 financial report. In it you will discover total assets of $43,485,238 with total investments of $2,720,394. In 2019 it expended $1,400,412 in federal awards. In 2019 its salaries, employee benefits and payroll taxes amounted to $17,768,581. There is even an employee retirement plan. Valley-of-the-Sun-YMCA-and-Affiliate-1219-FS-FINAL

What can be done to stop what is clearly ‘a bad thing’? It’s time to make noise from within the communities of Glendale and Peoria. Let everyone know that this action is not acceptable to either community.

How? Well, it’s not quite that easy. You can try going to this link and submitting an email to Libby Henry. Please follow the prompts on their page: https://valleyymca.org/about-your-y/#executive-staff . Their main phone number is 602-404-9622 and either ask to speak to Ms. Henry or leave her a message.

Here is the list of their Board of Directors. Perhaps you know one of them:

  • Ryan Abbott, Senior Vice President, Sundt Construction, Inc.
  • Bradley Albert, Past Board Chair, Vice President, Resource Management, Arizona Public Service
  • Daniel Calihan, Senior Vice President, CBRE, Inc.
  • Andres Contreras, Executive Vice President of Social Services & Education, Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc.
  • Stephan Garner, CEO,  Abrazo Arrowhead Hospital
  • John Graham, President and CEO, Sunbelt Holdings
  • Ellen Hedlund, Secretary, Community Volunteer
  • Jennifer Holsman Tetreault, Assistant General Counsel, Field Operations, Vice President, Resource Management, US Foods
  • Donald Isaacson, Partner, Isaacson & Walsh, P.C.
  • Barbara Kennedy, CHRO, Western Alliance Bank
  • Michael King, Partner, Gammage & Burnham
  • Aaron Lemke, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo Commercial Banking
  • Mike McDaniel, Treasurer, Vice President & General Manager, Global Workplace & Mobility, DXC
  • Jim Pitman, Vice Chair, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Phoenix Suns
  • Bob Rice, Board Chair, Retired Program Manager, Intel
  • Joyce Stuart, Community Volunteer
  • Amy Thurston, Community Volunteer
  • Juli West, Vice President, Supply Chain

Arizona Christian University is a participant in this action as well. It is my understanding that the YMCA is selling its parcel to the university. Here are the principals of this institution:

  • Len Munsil, President
  • Mrs. Catharine D. Ellingsen, Chair,Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer and Corporate Secretary for Republic Services, Inc.
  • Mr. Tom Okarma, Vice Chair, Nonprofit Board and Leadership Coach
  • Dr. Larry Anderson, Interim Senior Pastor at Desert View Bible Church
  • Dr. Jim Baugh, Pastor; International Christian Leadership Development
  • Mr. Rick Blankenship, Retired Sales Professional (High-Tech Industry)
  • Mr. Floyd Brown, Publisher at The Western Journal; Author, Speaker, Media Commentator and Political Consultant
  • Mr. John Cocca, Secretary, Public Safety Professional (Retired)
  • Mr. Glenn Dobbs, Retired Businessman
  • Dr. Mark Fuller, Pastor of Leadership Development at the Church of the Nazarene (Ohio)
  • Mr. Don King, Retired Manufacturing Manager
  • Dr. Gregory Koury, Physician
  • Mr. Wayne Mihailov, CEO of Airline MRO Parts (AMP)
  • Mr. Len Munsil. Ex-Officio, University President
  • Mr. David Pruitt, Realtor and Director of the Property Management Division of West USA Realty, Inc.
  • Dr. Shelly Roden, Retired ACU/Southwestern College faculty member and administrator; ACU’s Dr. Shelly Roden School of Education named in her honor.
  • Mr. Andrew Unkefer, Treasurer, Entrepreneur and Business Consultant

An email may be sent to: concerns@arizonachristian.edu and their main phone number is 602-489-5300.

It is time to let the executive staff and board of directors of the Valley of the Sun YMCA and Arizona Christian University know that their proposed action to close the only facility that serves the northwest valley is unacceptable. Can this facility be saved and continue its mission of serving Glendale and Peoria? I don’t know but I do know that if we don’t try we will lose a precious asset in our community.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       


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