To the editor:
When the Greater Houston YMCA announced Aug. 7 that it would no longer operate programs such as Little Dribblers, flag football, ballet and karate in Sealy, a lot of people expressed frustration and disappointment.
The school district recently opted to go with a different after-school program and the city selected a Katy-based company to operate the local pool, leaving the Y with very few opportunities to serve in Sealy, according to Omoiye Kinney, who handles public relations for the Greater Houston YMCA.
Several local volunteers have stepped up, including Sealy High School Coach Anthony Branch, who has offered to assist in reviving the Little Dribblers program and Marsha Merrell, who teaches dance classes.
But the situation has left a bad taste in the mouths of those who worked to bring the program here such as Becky Mills, the wife of the late TJ Mills.
Below is a statement from Becky Mills:
“Eight years ago, when my husband, TJ, and I returned to Sealy, we wanted to give back to our beloved town. We immediately became involved with the YMCA at Steve Wilson's prompting. We formed a wonderful, hard-working board that during the next two years, along with our mayor, Nick Tirey, our city council, and our city manager, Chris Coffman, worked relentlessly to establish programs for all ages through the YMCA.
We realized we needed our own building and with generous community donations, we began our fundraising. There is no doubt in my mind, if we had continued with these amazing people, we would have had a YMCA building within two years. As it happened, with the new mayor and council, we began to see our efforts were in vain. Personal vendettas and personal interests overruled the needs and interests of our children and citizens.
For over five years, plans were tabled by the council, and sent back to the drawing board repeatedly, each time with the costs spiraling. At the end of eight years, the YMCA has finally closed its last programs in Sealy, Texas. Dance, karate, touch football, basketball, swim team, adult exercise, after school care, and swim lessons will no longer be available to our citizens. Even though we had the money for the building and also money to sustain the Y for three years, the city of Sealy and the YMCA withdrew their support of the building. This meeting was held behind closed doors without anyone from the Y board being invited. We, on the board, heard the news from community members. Thus began the demise of the Y programs.
No one will take the blame for the failure but the city council and former mayor can pat themselves on the back for once again ruining an opportunity for our town's growth. Years ago, we lost the chance to open the Boys and Girls Club which provides programs to after school children. That program is now in Bellville and very successful. I hope that one day we will be able to provide a place for our children to participate in programs and our senior citizens to work out free of charge but for now, we will just have to go on down the road to Bellville, or Katy like we do to dine, shop, go to movies, etc.
My husband dreamed of this building for our town and I am so glad he is not here to see how this dream was destroyed by such small minded people who put their personal grudges before the needs of our community. What a legacy this council and mayor have left Sealy.
Former board chairman of the Sealy YMCA