BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An icon in south Baton Rouge that depends on community support needs help from the public.
Capital Area YMCA leaders report membership at the Baranco-Clark YMCA is in decline. A campaign is underway to help recruit contributors to the Y.
The parking lot of the Baranco-Clark YMCA on Thomas Delpit Drive was packed with cars on Friday. But inside, there was evidence of only a handful of children in the gym. The workout facility, outdoor swing sets, and playground were empty. There was one room, however, that was full of people looking to change that.
State Representative Pat Smith, a former camp counselor at the Baranco Y, called a community meeting to drum up support for south Baton Rouge facility.
"The building is not being used. That's my biggest concern. I'd like to see kids in this building," Rep. Smith said.
Capital Area YMCA Chief Executive Officer, Bob Jacobs, said the south Baton Rouge location has approximately 400 members. The YMCA relies mainly on contributions and volunteers. It is something Jacobs said the Y needs more of.
"There's greater capacity here and to be good stewards to any of the resources that we invest in this community we want to maximize those,"
Rene Smith was part of the discussion. She has also been a member of the Y for more than 45 years. She suggested launching a door-to-door community awareness campaign.
"You might have to go out and talk to the parents and let them know what we're trying to do and the benefits they'll have if they let their kids come here," Rene Smith said.
She and other concerned citizens believe incorporating academic and recreational programs that once existed into the Y will help attract new members.
"We need to make it more interesting for the children to come where they can catch and keep their attention," Smith said.
YMCA leaders said laying down a solid strategy for doing that is their first step.
The YMCA Board of Directors will review the ideas they received at the community meeting and put together a list of priorities.