By Joe Rector
Yes, I’m an older person who at times can get crabby. Hell, I sometimes get downright hateful. This is one of those times. Readers might also grow as angry as I am right now after reading this column.
An article in the September 18th edition Knoxville News Sentinel reported that the Tennessee State Alliance of YMCAs will no longer participate in the SilverSneakers program. The partnership between the YMCAs and SilverSneakers will end on January 1, 2020.
According to the report, the alliance wanted more money, and one spokesman for the senior citizen program stated that, in some cases, the YMCAs wanted to hike the costs as much as 140%. So, approximately 10,000 seniors will lose membership privileges at Ys across the state.
Oh, but don’t worry. The YMCA has said pricing plans will be set before the end of the year. Of course, they fail to acknowledge the fact that senior citizens usually participate in the program because it is included in their Medicare extended plans. Most of us oldsters don’t have the extra cash to join gyms. In fact, the majority of SIlverSneakers members take better care of themselves because they have those memberships included in their insurance coverage.
Other facilities will continue to work with SilverSneakers. A list can be found with a quick search on the Internet. However, for many older folks, the Y is a place convenient to them. Traveling to other places might be too difficult or too far. What are those individuals to do? Many will stop exercising, and that will lead to poorer health conditions. Oh, but it appears that doesn’t matter unless the money keeps coming in.
I looked up the YMCA’s mission statement. It states the following: “At its core, the mission of the Y is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. We are more than just a swim and gym.”
I’ll leave it up to readers to decide how closely the organization follows its own stated mission. I also will point out that cutting out services to a large chunk of folks who live on fixed incomes does not seem to be, at least, “in the spirit” of Christianity, at least not the way I view my religion.
At the same time, another search revealed that the YMCA receives funds from United Way. That organization’s mission states,” We help people by raising funds and supporting programs that provide opportunity and create lasting change in our community. United Way of Greater Knoxville fights to ensure a good life for all by funding programs that focus in Health, Education, and Financial Stability.”
I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the Y is failing to uphold the mission of the United Way. Perhaps if it no longer wants to provide services to SilverSneakers, it should no longer share in the funds raised by Knoxville residents throughout the area.
The actions of the Tennessee State Alliance of YMCAs seem shortsighted. They might be cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Some individuals and families might find another facility to visit. Some organizations might no longer identify the business as a deserving recipient of charitable funds.
I hope that the YMCA will change the stance it now takes and allows 10,000 senior citizens to continue improving their health and well-being. If it doesn’t, well, we all know what the saying is about karma.