YMCA Bounces Checks as Finances Flounder

Building the Temecula facility drained the nonprofit organization's reserve funds, and it has been surviving paycheck-to-paycheck ever since.

Building a facility in Temecula drained the YMCA's savings, and it has been struggling to pay the bills ever since.

YMCA employees' pay checks have been bouncing for several months, and some employees have gone two pay cycles without being paid, according to several YMCA workers.

"The first pay day of August, the pay checks started to bounce," said Taylor Cahill, a former aquatic supervisor at the Temecula facility, via an email. "When September came, pay checks were still bouncing, and staff members were starting to get kicked out of their (apartments), homes and condos because they couldn't pay rent."

The checks did bounce, but not because of mismanagement, said Jackie Fielder, the CEO of the YMCA of Riverside City and County, which owns and runs the Temecula facility at ‪29119 Margarita Road‬.

The checks were bouncing because building the Temecula facility drained the nonprofit's coffers, she said in an interview Monday.

"It strapped the organization. It just strapped it," she said.

The $4.8 million facility lost money by the tens of thousands since it first opened in May of 2009, and only this year has it showed signs of economic viability, Fielder said.

It lost $45,000 a month during its first two fiscal years, and in its third fiscal year, it lost $25,000 a month, Fielder said.

Today, the facility is in black ink -- just barely, according to Fielder. "It's pretty much at the break even point. Some months we lose $500, some months we make $500."

Building goes up, economy goes down
The organization committed to building the facility before the economy crashed and much of their funding disappeared, Fielder said.

The nonprofit runs on a combination of membership fees, government grants and donations, each of which was affected by the economy.

The Y's goal is to keep residents healthy, regardless of how much money they have. It does this by giving scholarships to members who cannot pay, and the government, donations and fees paid by other members make this possible, said Brian Herbertson, the local YMCA's marketing director.

When the economy tanked, the number of paying members shrank, the number of scholarship members grew, and donations grew scarce, he said.

"The need for our services has skyrocketed while our donations aren't what we would like them to be," he said on Monday.

The organization's facility in Hemet is the most extreme example, with 85 percent of the membership getting full or partial grants, Herbertson said.

YMCA of Riverside City and County runs four facilities: the flagship location in Riverside, one in Hemet, a childcare-only facility in Jurupa and the Temecula facility.

The local YMCA has a charter with the national organization, but when it comes to finances, it runs independently from the national organization, said Jessica Wylie, a spokesperson for the national YMCA organization.

The domino effect of bouncing checks
YMCA employees' paychecks began to bounce on Sept. 13, just after several school districts fell behind on their payments to the YMCA, Fielder said.

The Y contracted to provide after-school services for three districts: Alvord Unified, Perris Elementary and Riverside Unified. The state fell behind in their payments to the schools, so the schools fell behind in paying the Y, Fielder said.

So the nonprofit was unable to pay its employees, and more than 200 checks bounced, Fielder said.

Around this time, a hiccup in paperwork stopped the state from sending $65,000 a month in reimbursements for providing childcare services, Fielder said.

Fielder does not want to blame the state or districts, she said. "We should have been in a position to be able to front (that money) for 45 days," she said. "Our reserves went out the door after we built that Temecula facility."

Schools put in "very, very difficult situation"
The Y had employees working at Perris elementary schools without being paid, which put school officials in a bad position, said Virniecia Green-Jordan, the president of the Perris board of trustees.

"It put us in a very, very difficult situation," she said.

When checks started bouncing, the YMCA employees came to the Perris Board of Trustees and complained. "They didn't get paid for two paychecks, so they came to us," she said. "It was absolutely ugly."

The YMCA notified the district in December that it would cease offering services, Green-Jordan said. About 80 students at each school suddenly had no after-school programs.

"The parents were upset, they came to the school board meeting," the board president said. "It was very, very short notice."

School officials were furious, she said. "We contracted with the Y to provide that service. We were on time. We had already paid the contract. We did not know that the employees that worked at our school had not been paid."

Cutting losses
Paychecks have been bouncing ever since September, though the organization always paid them -- albeit late -- and reimbursed workers for the bounced-check fees, Fielder said.

Around that time, the Y cut 315 people from its payroll in an attempt to get finances under control, which saved the organization $250,000 a month.

The organization's higher-ups are not immune. Fielder at one point went three pay cycles without being paid. "My checks don't bounce because I don't cash them. I wait until everybody else is paid," she said. "It hasn't been easy for anyone." She also recently took a 15 percent pay cut.

The bouncing checks hit the employees hardest, and many, like Cahill, the former aquatics supervisor, had to leave the organization, he said.

"Many of the staff that have left cared so much about the members and the kids that came through the YMCA every day. Many of the staff taught the kids how to swim and just formed amazing connections," he said. "They have destroyed many of the staff's lives."

The burden of a building
Putting up the Temecula facility was not a good idea in hindsight, Fielder said.

The Y paid to put up the building, but the City of Temecula owns the land. This presents a unique problem, Fielder said. Selling the facility is almost impossible, because nobody would buy a multi-million dollar building on somebody else's land.

"The only people who could buy it are another YMCA (chartered organization), or the city," Fielder said.

Fielder was promoted to CEO in 2010 -- Robert Coleman was the CEO when the Temecula facility opened -- and she has been dealing with the problems the facility created ever since.

She feels the organization's leadership got swept up in the euphoria of expanding, she said. "It feels good to build a new facility," she said. "I think we grew too big, too fast."

Now, the organization has no choice but to keep the doors open and make this facility work, she said.

Keeping the faith
Despite all the hardship, Fielder believes the organization's problems will soon be over, she said. "We're a faith-based organization, and I have faith," she said, her eyes welling with tears.
This realization hit her last week during a Good Friday breakfast at the Riverside facility.

The nonprofit provides meals for the needy every year on that day, and usually she books 49 tables. This year -- due to demand -- she booked 66 tables.

"The place was slammed," she said. "I wondered whether this is ever going to get better. Then I looked out into that sea of people… and you have to know, everything's going to be OK."

sportsfan April 14, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Dont you love all these arguments and comments.These personal attacks against each other is so ridiculous. As if yelling at each thru a newspaper article is going to help you.... Here ya go Temecula, these people are watching YOUR children.Real professional folks!!!! Now move on!!!
T 22 April 14, 2012 at 09:27 PM
isn't that the truth!?
I <3 The Y April 14, 2012 at 09:40 PM
I <3 The Y April 14, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Chris fielder is a great basketball player!
sparkle April 14, 2012 at 11:13 PM
sparkle April 14, 2012 at 11:26 PM
I have thought a lot about this article before posting my opinion on here, I have worked for the Riverside YMCA for years and I have to admit this is the worst I have seen. In my opinion this organization never really strived to excellence, there was always favoritism, cattyness between management, and just the feeling that things were not being done to par or "for the children" as they would state. The YMCA went downhill very fast this last year, I believe starting in the summer. I found it very odd that during a field trip we almost didnt get in because of the credit card was declined.... hmmmm All these parents paying high tutition as well as state funding and we barely had the means to get in the field trip place.. That triggered something in my mind and made me worry about my job and the financial stand point of this organization. Shortly after this, our paychecks started to bounce, it is very sad that once we put it in the bank, acouple days later we would be shocked when being declined for groceries for our children, at a resturant and even declinded car or rent payments. Not only did this happened once but it happened consistantly after and we havent had a break from the game "catch me if you can" with their provident bank account. How can you sign checks that are not good?? how is this acceptable and how is this legal? I lost all respect for the CEO and her puppets for not once having a meeting with the staff as a group, instead coworkers had to track down Jackie
sparkle April 14, 2012 at 11:59 PM
at the YMCA and have a one on one meeting with her about the worries I had about this organization. I was told once the coworkers were off the payroll from the other school districts that were late paying the YMCA our checks would be better and we would even get our direct deposit back in November. Well November came and went and so did our direct deposits and checks still continued to bounce. One day while clocking out at my site I overhead my director of my site who is very immature and barely qualified for her position, say well if they dont like whats going on with their checks they should not be working with kids anyways.... EXCUSE ME?? I believe a fairs day work deserves a fair wage. I held up my part however the YMCA did not . If our checks were not late , they were a useless paper until we caught the bank on a good day....
Y worker April 15, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Dislikes taylor mayb you should get your head out of chris n jackies ass smell some fresh air and face reality!!!!
big stink April 15, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Hey student.....your mom goes to college!
big stink April 15, 2012 at 08:38 PM
gadfly, i think you should be concerned and you should go swimming in the Temecula pool.....because I go peepee and caca in it all the time!!!
big stink April 15, 2012 at 08:40 PM
they dont call me big stink for nothing!
Peter Surowski April 16, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Hey Big Stink, I hate to do this, but I had to delete a few of your comments. Remember, we could have kids reading this website, so let's keep it clean, OK?
big stink April 16, 2012 at 10:59 PM
whoever deleted my posts is a donkey raping s**t eater! I know it is you Jackie and Chris....you bung hole lickers!
big stink April 16, 2012 at 11:07 PM
You should be ashamed....because the best part of you ran down the crack of your mothers ass! did your parents have any kids that lived? if you were to take your lips off jackie and chris' ass, maybe you would have enough time to look around and see that you are full of monkey spunk...dont blame Jackie and Chris? I am not, I am blaming your mother and father for making a little punk bitch like you....pop your mother nipple out of your mouth and grow up.....oh, by the way..... your mom says hi, and to get a life you sorry excuse of a human...
big stink April 16, 2012 at 11:08 PM
hey....look above for response butthole
big stink April 16, 2012 at 11:10 PM
freedom of speech....ok then! YOU SMELL LIKE YOUR WHORE OF A MOTHERS TAINT!
TVOR April 16, 2012 at 11:10 PM
I don't suppose it has anything to do with the content of your posts.
big stink April 16, 2012 at 11:24 PM
It most likely does....and I love it!
Ali April 17, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Wow ... I can not say that i am shocked, its disappointing ... but not very surprised at all.
Ali April 17, 2012 at 10:00 PM
My family&i have been around the Y for years. My parents were working & volunteering their time while my siblings and i were in the womb. So knowing all that is happening, is no news to us. My siblings and I have always said that the YMCA was our 2nd home carrying our 2nd family. We pretty much couldn't wait to wake up every morning to just see the staff and members,They couldn't wait to see us too. We were all involved in EVERYTHING!!!! So we had a good reputation in helping others with anything. Not one time did we ever hate or speak ill of the Y, we held that place close to our hearts every day. We lived to work and volunteer our time, it was like having a family reunion. WE LOVED IT <3 That was then, Now ... for several years starting in '09' it all felt different. People were changing, the people we once called family and took care of their own started to become ugly inside. Soon enough, it started to show outside just as much. When you look for jobs elsewhere, you know that things were not as "family oriented" as they use to be. It hurt my heart & my families to know that change was happening in our very own home. All our hard work and people we pretty much grew up with ... were all wearing faces of deceivers. The "GOOD" part of the staff all became weary and eager to look elsewhere too. You could see the pain in their eyes every day and all we could do is hope. Hope for change. Hope for better management. Hope to bring our Y's reputation back to what it was ... family.
Ali April 17, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Since that year ... Nothing has changed. Ive heard so many stories, from so many mouths. It made me laugh but hurt even more because it was all about MY HOME. Well, it use to be ... Hearing all this is just one big sigh of relief. Hope may have not came when we were struggling but it came just in time to show the world that doing wrong, gets you no where in life. It just ends up coming back to you 100000x harder then you have given it. I hate to see all this and hear any of this but i truly hope the board releases the main ones who are in charge of all this mess, since day one! I am not going to name names, i have no need too and i no longer am affiliated with the Y for years. I pray every day that the Y goes back to the way it use too, treating staff and members, even loiters ... like family. NO MORE LIES. NO MORE STEALING. NO MORE TAKEN ADVANTAGE. NO MORE GETTING RID OFF OR LETTING GO OF HARD WORKING STAFF!!!!!!!!! You know ... the ones who pretty much are willing to work for free or no raise because they are there for the members ??? Yea, those people, like Cahill ... It takes a great person to work for people who take advantage of you but it takes an even more GREATER person to work because you love the members/staff. I though people like you only existed in the days when i was there, the Y was truly lucky to have kept you long enough to have you work as dedicated as you were for them. So forget what all those negative comments say, as long as you are being honest ...
Ali April 17, 2012 at 10:23 PM
You shouldnt have to defend yourself or anyone. You dont even have to name the people who are in charge of all this. They know! Trust me ... They know. Ill be praying for all those who are still there working with honesty and dedication, the members that are struggling to stay, the people who have been let go/rid of, and mostly ... The Y's long long years of reputation as a family oriented refuge for ALL! Struggling or rich. Broken or bruised. Deceivers or loyal. No one was judged, we were all once family. Now its time for a better change and it will come, Karma has finally taken place.We all knew this day was going to happen. We all knew. "THEY" knew ... p.s For those who got let go or no longer working for them by choice ... Things do get better, ive seen it and im in it. The struggle is just another obstacle that keeps our strength on its toes. Hope, Thats all you gotta keep in mind :)
Ali April 17, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Really? Thanks for the new info ... i knew someone was speaking ill of the good people who worked for the YMCA longer then she has. Some of those people, pretty much ran the Y with a lot of heart in everything. The majority of them put in 7 days a week and some hours voluntarily. Very rarely have any down time, when they got home from a hard days work, they brought it straight with them at home. Even involving their children and friends. They did anything to keep that motto running true. WOW ... karma is really gonna hurt seriously when they keep lying more and more. Sorry for your lose but know its for the best, trust me. I wouldnt ... no ... I'd be ASHAMED to be affiliated with that Y. Trust me when i say it is a big thing because i held that place with pride. All we can do is HOPE for justice. I hope things are getting better for you. All my best <3
Temecula mom April 22, 2012 at 03:38 PM
You should look into the fact that about 2 years ago the Fiedler's removed the Temecula Chairman of the Board (Carl Burke), because he was asking too many questions about the finances. It's a shame that a facility that held so much promise, has been run into the ground by a greedy couple with too much power and no knowledge on running a business.
involved member April 22, 2012 at 06:40 PM
They have left a trail of knowledgeable people in their destructive path . We continue to wonder how and when this will stop. The riverside Y is also suffering from their management style, often without papertowels, soap, and basic cleanliness. It appears when people ask questions they are replaced by people who won't. Do the Fiedler"s answer to anyone?
Steven John April 22, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Jackie Fiedler may have taken a 15 percent cut in her pay but she put her husband on the payroll for as VP of healthy living. (whatever that means) Mike Jaime has his wife on the payroll as director of the Hemet Branch. He say he is happy about everything. They laid off 315 people, but there are still the same group of brass working at the Riverside Y with various titles. In fact they just hired a pool director. Go to their website and you will find 16 people , many with hard to decipher titles. Do you really think they are all needed? Somewhere around 70 percent of our money goes for payroll but it isn't for the peons who work split shifts for less than 20 or 30 hours. Then their paycheck bounces.
Steven John April 22, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Jackie has been around for awhile. She was first hired as a grant hunter by Mark Malic. She was involved in the scandal that sent Jean Cross to prison for 6 years. She claims she was a victim, but the YMCA was to get 18 of the 35 million dollar grant. It wasn't the Y that blew the whistle. When Jackie took over, we redid the pool , got new exercise equipment, resanded the basket ball and raquetball courts. One day she took all the backroom people to Disneyland. A lot of money was spent that should have been saved. Even at a meeting we had for the membership , when we didn't have papertowels and handsoap --she was talking about redoing the parking lot and mens lockerroom. This with paychecks bouncing. She may have increased membership, but if 85 percent are let in with reduced membership fees (such as Hemet) it isn't going to help much. Oh yes, around December we borrowed 325,000 and it didn't stop the checks from bouncing. That money will have to be paid back with interest. If this is doing a great job, as John Ray says, I wonder what is doing a poor job like.
Sandi July 06, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I agree with "seriously". I was a member and there was no management for one. Nobody knew what was going on. And I completely agree that they did not offer anything. I came from the Encinitas Y and that place is wonderful. I hope they get this open and running. I live in Rainbow and I need a pool that does not require me to live in the area to swim or I have to pay big fees each time I swim!! People who want to lap swim ever day it becomes to expensive. I hope the have a monthly type membership to all.
Disappointed resident August 25, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I thought the "C" in YMCA stood for Christian? Based on these comments, it doesn't appear that management is behaving as such. Is the national headquarters of the YMCA aware of what is going on in Riverside? I'd be curious to know how they would feel about this.
Y Supporter March 18, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Take a Look........ You want to know how to run a real "Y"? Take a look at the Redlands Y. The budget there grew from about 3 million/year to over 12 million per year. Recession? Don't think so! The Redlands Y had a capital campaign in the middle of the "recession" and raised 9 million dollars! Good management (financial) will trump anything else.


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