Posted by: karenevoss | January 17, 2016

Bidding Adieu to an Organization

A year ago, I made the decision to continue with the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee after they closed the South Shore Y located in Cudahy, Wisconsin. Over time, I’ve learned how much trouble the Milwaukee Y’s have accumulated and what has led to their demise. Even a few days ago, they announced more cuts because of lack of funds. I knew I needed to make a change due to their troubles. My heart had made the decision a while ago, but now my mind said “it’s time to depart”. This past week, I made a decision to discontinue my membership and since they require a 30 day written notice, here’s my resignation.


January 11, 2016

Dear Julie Tolan & the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee,

I’m writing today to bid Adieu to the Milwaukee Y’s after eight years. In other words, I’m saying goodbye & ceasing transactions from my bank account.

I joined the South Shore Y (SSY) in February 2008 with a main purpose, to prepare myself & my fiancé for our August 2008 wedding. In December 2008, the SSY stepped up to become my second home & family after my husband passed away. The friends more like family I acquired, connected me to more places in the community & also became part of the book I wrote. Inside the pages of my book, That’s All I Got! Thrival: A Widow’s Journey After Suicide, are details how the SSY as a whole assisted in my healing & created lifelong friendships & a team who really cares.

A year ago, Metro Milwaukee Y closed our home & broke our family into a million pieces. I stayed on knowing that working in Glendale & living in Bay View gave me access to facilities I required in one stop: a lap pool, whirlpool, track, & a fitness center. Since then, I’ve never grown to have a family at either location. I came to realize that my heart isn’t in what the Y stands  for anymore. It took over two months this past spring/summer to get my scholarship renewed because I was lost in the cracks after the transition from the SSY & no one would directly tell me what I needed to do to renew it—I had to force it out & then have someone in Brown Deer make it happen when Downtown gave me a run-a-round. My towel service became suddenly discontinued & no one noticed until a week ago (it turns out it never transferred when I opted into Downtown). There’s a horrible communication gap that I never experienced at the SSY. Continued financial problems have led me to feel insecure about the Milwaukee Y’s future & I don’t want to be a part of another Y closure or bankruptcy.

My work situation is changing & I don’t plan on driving 20 miles to lap swim. The mileage, gas expense, & time to commute don’t make it easy for me to head to Brown Deer after work on most days. The SSY facility is only 4 miles away. The SSY still stands empty, but you can see equipment from the street; it looks so sad & uncared for. Yes, buildings have feelings too just like the staff, members, volunteers, & community participants that were once part of it. You weren’t there to see the tears on the last days of classes or the last days of the SSY. You weren’t there to see the last memories being made, the hugs, the goodbyes, & for some of us— we’ll see you arounds. You weren’t aware of all the connections we made on Facebook or the continued support we gave to each other.

Many of us remain bitter over the decisions that Metro made over the years that led to our demise & that continue to deteriorate. I’ve learned that three Y’s were built on credit & that the top people make over $100,000/year for a non-profit organization that’s been suffering financial troubles for years. You wonder why you didn’t reach your campaign goals for 2015 well, I have a theory—you closed a major Y that served the communities of Bay View, Cudahy, St. Francis, South Milwaukee, Milwaukee, & Oak Creek. I don’t think those members are giving donations as well as the companies that serve those communities. I, for one, haven’t given more above my memberships & Idle Ironman.

So long & farewell YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee because I’m jumping ship to Xperience Fitness where other SSY members reside, where drama is minimal, & it’s 6 miles from my house.


Karen E Voss
Member since 2008



  1. I know what the SSY meant to you and understand how hard this decision must have been. You put it quite well in this letter, Karen. Wishing for you the home you’re seeking at your new gym.

    • Thank you Nikki! I found it’s time to move forward with certain things and this is one of them.

  2. Karen you really said exactly what I feel; feeling lost empty and financially burdened. I am also one that joined the y in 1992 till currently. My four children who practically began their lives from birth grows up at the y; it was the closest and safest place besides our home. We made great friends who are also the only social life we all had. Yes I feel shattered and sad.
    That’s over 22 years with the y.

  3. […] YMCA made as staff lost their jobs and members lost their home and family. Recently, I wrote a letter to the Metro. Milwaukee Y expressing my thoughts and emotions as I’m choosing to leave the Milwaukee Y after eight […]

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