Community Rallies Against Incident at YMCA

By Alex Rose

Published 08/13 2014 10:28PM

Updated 08/13 2014 10:50PM

Burlington, Vt.- On a rainy Wednesday evening, people gathered to protest an incident at Burlington's YMCA.

"I find it appalling that someone would ask my son and other younger individuals to go and drink out of a shower head," said concerned mother and organizer of the protest Mary Brown-Guillory.

During a Friday night of midnight madness, a program that lets kids come in for free to play basketball, teenagers were filling up coolers for water. The water fountain they were using, couldn't handle that much use.

“It broke down and didn't work for a few hours afterwards,” said Burlington YMCA CFO Luanne Cantor.

That's when a YMCA employee asked the kids to use this cold water shower, thinking it could handle the capacity.

“In hindsight it wasn't a good solution to the problem, but it wasn't our intent to hurt anybody,” Cantor said.

The big issue was the group of kids are mainly minorities. The rally was in protest to what mothers including Mary Brown-Guillory call discrimination.

"Racism only lives if we let it," Brown-Guillory said.

Brown-Guillory held a meeting in hopes to change concerns she and others had about the YMCA.

“We're asking for training, diversity training,” Brown-Guillory said.

Another issue brought up was accessibility. Some of the kids had to fill out forms to get a youth card, including a W2.

“What 6th grader or 7th grader has a W2?” Brown-Guillory said.

“This process is onerous especially for some of the youth, so that's something we're happy to look at. We'll streamline the process,” Cantor said.

CFO Luanne Cantor and the YMCA board plan to make changes that align with their mission statement.

“We want everyone to feel comfortable at the y and if we did something to make anyone uncomfortable, we want to change that, and we're committed to working with the community to make the y an even better place," Cantor said.

Cantor also says they are looking into the budget to see how they can make that free basketball program run more smoothly. They hope to bring back providing water and Gatorade for the kids.

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