DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In West Dallas, there’s another blow to an already underserved community. The Lakewest YMCA has announced that it is closing its doors for good.
“I was so sad, really shocked,” said Debbie Solis. “My son learned how to swim there.”
In a community already hit hard by COVID-19 and all of its consequences, it is another quiet casualty.
“The impact is great,” said Solis, while preparing free food boxes to deliver to Voices of Hope clients. “The working people here do not have jobs right now.”
And others, too, question the center’s departure.
“It’s absolutely a shame, really,” said French Aire Gardner in West Dallas. “And I think if we were in a different community, maybe they wouldn’t stop the programming.”
Solis is concerned about the lack options, now, for neighborhood children. She says the YMCA was a needed resource for meeting space and after-school and summer programs.
“I think what’s really sad about it — of all the centers, they would close a center that’s in West Dallas, serving the children that don’t have means to go anywhere else — that’s what so sad. I just don’t understand why they would do that,” Solis said.
In a farewell video posted on the YMCA website, Lakewest YMCA Executive Director Loletha Horton cites financial difficulties “due to COVID,” and goes on to thank patrons for “support, generosity and the ability to serve outside of these doors.”
Even while shuttered during shelter at home orders, staffers at the Lakewest YMCA coordinated with the North Texas Food Bank to provide food boxes to struggling families.
That video message also encourages families to visit other YMCA locations roughly six miles away. But, some say the reality in the West Dallas community is that those six miles, may as well be 60.
“Six miles away is an eternity for us,” said Solis. “People don’t have vehicles.” Even now, Solis, a product of and lifelong advocate for West Dallas, was preparing food boxes in the Voices of Hope warehouse to deliver to families who didn’t have the transportation to pick up the free food.
Others agree that access will be an issue.
“I’m familiar with the T Boone Pickens location downtown,” said Gardner. “And if you have a car that’s only 10 minutes — it’s not a big deal; but, if you don’t have a car, then what are you doing?”
Solis, meanwhile, remains worried about the children.
“They are going to be affected more than people who have other venues to go to– our youth don’t have anywhere to go,” she said.