YMCA / youth counselors
As much as I enjoyed working with the children and was proud of the position I held, I could not believe that such a reputable organization would in fact be the opposite of the reputation that I had so often heard about and trusted.
Thousands of parents rely on the integrity and popularity associated with the YMCA name. Known for it's Christian based community and family services. However, last year I applied for a position as an after school counselor and was hired. I was assigned to a nearby elementary school.
Within days of my start, the site's supervisor (s.s), who had been active in this position for many years, was the target in an ethical tug-of-war with the branch supervisor (b.s). This guy (b.s) was very aggressive toward the children. During his visits, at this particular school, he assigned consequences for children if they talked out, weren't facing forward, ect... The consequence, of this particular situation, was for the child to sit out the entire outside play period. The (s.s) worker allowed the child to return to play after the guideline's (employee training manual) normal 10 minutes had expired. She (s.s) stated that the (b.s) time assignment was too extensive and undeserved. Which, it was. And that was the battle that led to her (s.s) dismissal.
He (b.s) would have several visits to the site where he would speak harshly to the children and have them sit out and/or lose activities because of normal child behaviors. We (staff) were advised to be as harsh and were told that if they (the children) didn't like it and wanted their parents to take them to a different program, so be it. He (s.s) stated that there was a long waiting list of parents waiting for an opening in this program.
There was a child about 10 years in age at this school with special needs, he was bi-polar. The child would have episodes that would require extra help and direction from the counselors. He was written up often for this and his mother would be notified while at work, to come for him. The last time I saw her, after he (b.s) spoke with her about a meeting that would be held to discuss the continuance of her child in the program, she tried to walk out with her head up but her eyes were filled with tears. I was emotionally affected and had to excuse myself for a breather.
That day, after all the children had gone home, there was a meeting. One of the points made by the (b.s) was that something needed to be done so that this child, with special needs, would not be able to continue in the program. To be blunt, "have him kicked out". I stated the unfairness and pointed out that his mother may have no other alternative, while she was working. I was informed that this was not our problem.
By this time, my rose colored glasses had been crushed. I was filled with disappointment and felt like I was working for a deceitful company that was hiding secrets. If my child was receiving this sort of treatment, paid treatment, I would be pissed!
Aside from all this, I had been working for over 5 weeks and had not yet receive a paycheck. After I discontinued working with them, my last check should have been 2 full weeks but was only $15. I called and called to resolve this as was eventually informed that the funds were taken to pay for a full month of insurance benefits. Coverage that I never received any information about activation of (not a card, a packet, a phone #...nothing) and was never able to use.
I spoke with a prospective future employer, who asked me about my departure from the YMCA and when I explained, he stated that unfortunately he had heard similar complaints from former YMCA employees before and what a shame it was.
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