Starting a new chapter: Marquette County YMCA emerges from successful Chapter 11 confirmation hearing

YMCA board members and leadership stand on the steps of the U.S. Federal Court House along West Washington Street in Marquette Thursday morning before a final confirmation hearing before Judge John. T. Greg regarding their reorganization plan under Chapter 11. (Journal photo by Cecilia Brown)

MARQUETTE — The YMCA of Maquette County has begun a new chapter.

Judge John T. Gregg approved the YMCA’s reorganizational plan under Chapter 11 at a confirmation hearing 9 a.m. today in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan — this marks the end of a long journey for the YMCA, as they filed for Chapter 11 May 2017 as a result of significant debt accumulated under previous leadership.

The confirmation hearing and emergence from chapter 11 comes after months of hard work by many parties, said YMCA CEO Jenna Zdunek and YMCA Board of Directors Chairwoman Michele Butler.

“We worked diligently the last 14 months in chapter 11 but (also) well before that for 28 months to really reset our YMCA and operate like a Y should for a community our size and for a YMCA our size,” Zdunek said. “So we are a new Y and we worked very hard on a five-year budget as well as a new plan, we are operating like we should be and really following the mission and values of our YMCA and continuing to meet the needs of our community.”

They feel the outcome of the confirmation hearing was overwhelmingly positive.

“I think it was the best possible outcome we can get for everybody and for that, I feel very grateful to our consul and to the YMCA staff and board of directors,” Butler said after the hearing.

They have extensive and realistic plans for on-going stability and repaying debts under agreements with their creditors.

“Our plan and our budget really spell out exactly, realistically, what we can do to be operationally stable,” Zdunek said. “So nothing like this will ever happen again, so we feel very confident.”

However, Butler says, the YMCA is “not out of debt by any means — we’re still going to owe approximately 1.6 million, we have obligations that we’re going to have to meet.”

They’ll be raising capital funds to take care of the remaining debt and expenses.

“We are going to, as a new Y, be out there, with our plan and our program to raise this money,” Butler said. “And it is capital money, to take care of a lot of expenses that were incurred through the remodeling of the existing Y and the remodeling of the Negaunee Y, so we can pay off that back debt.”

The cooperation of two major creditors was instrumental in the success of the confirmation hearing, Zdunek and Butler said.

“Since 28 months ago, we have been working with Range Bank and the USDA and it has been a great collaboration,” Zdunek said. “i think everyone understood the importance of a YMCA in our community, so I’m so thankful for the USDA and Range Bank for working with us, because it really made this hearing go well today, as well as everyone being on the same page and having the same goal in mind, so we’re very appreciative.”

At the close of the hearing, Gregg commended the hard work of all parties in coming to an agreement, saying it was an “exemplary case” where many parties worked hard to come together and “do the right thing.”

With the confirmation hearing behind them, Zdunek says the YMCA will “be starting a whole new chapter of hard work.”

For more information, see Friday’s edition of The Mining Journal.