Knipe is new leader of local YWCA branch

Fiscally challenged group to reopen Odenton center

May 07, 2008|By David Zenlea | David Zenlea,Special to The Sun

A new leader is taking the helm of the YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County as the fiscally challenged group prepares to reopen its Odenton education and child care center.

Molly Knipe, who starts Monday, comes to the YWCA from Family Services Agency Inc. in Montgomery County, where she was chief operating officer. She replaces Janice Harvey, who resigned in December shortly after a funding shortage forced the YWCA to close its facility in Odenton.

"We're very, very excited. She brings a new energy and new ideas to the organization," said YWCA spokeswoman Kristin Fleckenstein.

Knipe has experience leading organizations in a challenging financial environment, Fleckenstein said.

"When she joined Family Services in Montgomery County, they were in a very similar situation with funding cuts," she said.

Meanwhile, the YWCA reached an agreement yesterday with Bridges Community Development Center in Odenton to restore the programs that used to run out of the YWCA's West County Family Support Center.

The YWCA had to close its West County Family Center last December after the state's intermediary organization, Friends of the Family Inc., found that the center's day care program did not meet requirements for state funding.

Fleckenstein said the YWCA was able to move most of its services to its headquarters in Arnold but had to give up its GED program, through which young mothers were able to take classes while the center cared for their children in a separate room.

Margaret Williams, director of Friends of the Family, said inspectors grew concerned with the quality of the staff at the day care center.

"The staff wasn't aware of what they were required to do," she said.

State-funded Friends of the Family provides about half of the funding needed to run a family center, Williams said. The agency relies on the individual organizations to find the rest of the funding on their own, something the YWCA had grown unable to do.

Bridges took over the lease for the YWCA's Odenton facility and plans to renovate it in time to begin offering programs at the beginning of the next school year in August.

"We want to keep those resources in the community," said Dennis Dorsey, executive director of Bridges, a nonprofit group associated with the Living Waters Worship Center in Odenton.

Anne Arundel County Councilman Jamie Benoit said the YWCA would be prepared to meet all such requirements. "The only thing left to do is to get the programs that were funded by Friends of the Family back on track," he said.

Friends of the Family sets its budget in July, at which time the YWCA will be able to reapply, Williams said. If it gets the funding, the YWCA will have a grace period to set up its family center.

Knipe declined to comment on specifics of the deal with the church but said she hopes to make the YWCA's funding situation more stable so that it doesn't face other situations similar to the closing the Family Center.

"I don't want to see those kind of programs go by the wayside, because I think they're very important," she said.

She said she will consider increasing donations from corporate, private and government sponsors rather than relying on grants, which typically provide funding only for a finite period.

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