Budget impasse shuts down program at Rauner Family YMCA

Karen Jordan Image
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
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Illinois? budget impasse is forcing a Little Village YMCA, named after Governor Bruce Rauner, to shut down one of its longest-running youth programs.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois' budget impasse is forcing a Little Village YMCA, named after Governor Bruce Rauner, to shut down one of its longest-running youth programs.

Before Bruce Rauner was governor, he was a venture capitalist noted for his philanthropy and donated millions of dollars to help open a YMCA in Little Village. The Rauner Family YMCA opened nine years ago.

But the Y does not get preferential treatment wow that the building's namesake is the governor.

"Governor Rauner's name is on the building, but we don't necessarily have a direct pipeline," says DeWana Williamson of the Rauner Family YMCA. "We're like any other non-profit agency who receives funds from the state."

Now that those funds have run out due to the budget battle in Springfield, administrators have made the tough decisions to discontinue one of the center's longest running programs called Teen Reach.

Parents of participating teenagers were notified with letters than the last day of the program will be Friday, Aug. 14.

"There's been a lot of anguish from them like, what will we do if we don't have this program," Williamson says.

Teen Reach is a year-round program that keeps at-risk kids off the streets by providing them with academic assistance and college and career preparation.

Paloma Saavedra went through the program and says it was a valuable experience.

"The teens need it a lot. Especially this neighborhood has violence and it's bad for them to be out after school where most of violence occurs," Saavedra says.

"We've become a family and I trust them all and it's gonna be really sad if we don't have the program anymore," says Victoria Martinez, who also is a member of the program.

Martinez has been in the program a year and has joined with other kids to raise funds for teen reach.

Their snack stand has brought in a few hundred dollars so far, but is still far short of the $200,000 cost of the program.

Governor Rauner issued this statement about the ongoing budget battle:

The failure of Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls to pass a balanced budget is impacting programs across the state like Teen Reach and underscores the need for reforms to transform state government that will free up resources to help the most vulnerable.

The Rauner Family Y has been trying to place Teen Reach kids in other programs. Many have been given summer jobs and internships.

But the administration is hoping for a last minute save before next Friday.