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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 12th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 28

YMCA to take over GenSpan programs in October

By Kasey Bubnash

After struggling to find volunteers, the GenSpan Foundation recently announced plans to dissolve its operations by the end of this month.

GenSpan, a nonprofit that has provided social and educational programs in schools throughout Santa Maria since 2001, will continue many of its most popular programs through the Santa Maria Valley YMCA, according to GenSpan Executive Director Brenda Frazier. 

Frazier said her upcoming move to Wisconsin and GenSpan's recent difficulty recruiting volunteers were the main factors in its decision to dissolve, a choice that was announced in late August at a YMCA meeting. 

"We were kind of fighting a losing battle," Frazier told the Sun, adding that after the Santa Maria-Bonita School District streamlined its volunteer screening process for parents about three years ago, GenSpan started seeing significantly fewer volunteers.

GenSpan used to provide all fingerprinting and tuberculosis testing services for community members hoping to volunteer in schools, according to Maggie White, public information officer for the Santa Maria-Bonita School District. But in an effort to make volunteering easier for parents, the district stopped requiring those tests for parent volunteers who would be working entirely under direct supervision of educators or administrators.

Since those changes were made, GenSpan went from having roughly 145 volunteers to 30, according to Frazier, GenSpan's executive director. 

Finding new ways to recruit could be difficult, and Frazier said hiring a new executive director would be, too.

Instead, the YMCA will officially take over GenSpan operations on Oct. 1 in return for an endowment from the nonprofit. Although Frazier said she could not disclose the amount, she said it would be "substantial." 

"I chose the YMCA because they have a program similar to ours, where they do after-school programs and work in the schools," Frazier said, adding that she once worked as a YMCA preschool teacher. "So it's full-circle for me." 

The YMCA will take the reins on the nonprofit's student field trips to the Elks Rodeo and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Frazier said, and will continue the Christmas Comes Early program, during which students get to eat a buffet dinner and participate in a PCPA program. 

It will also continue running GenSpan's gift shop at Merrill Gardens, an assisted living facility, that sells necessary toiletries, stamps, and cards to its residents at a low cost. GenSpan's only paid employee will soon be employed by the YMCA and tasked with managing the shop. 

Although Frazier said she's sad to be leaving, she's glad children in Santa Maria will continue to participate in many of GenSpan's programs through the Y. 

"It's been a wonderful journey," Frazier said.

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