Studers give YMCA $5 million without restrictions

Press Release: Today officials from the Northwest Florida YMCA announced that Quint and Rishy Studer, in what is one of the largest private donations to a YMCA in the country, reiterated their now unrestricted pledge of $5,000,000 to the nonprofit agency.

In a letter addressed to Steve Williams (see attached), Chairman of the YMCA Board, the Studers stated that although they “would love to see a new YMCA at the Community Maritime Park, we do not intend to condition our $5,000,000 gift on this specific outcome.”

Citing a negotiating process that seemed to focus more on personalities than the merits of the project, the Studers affirmed their support for the goals of the YMCA.

“As the YMCA’s request to negotiate for a sub-lease on Parcel 8 devolved into a political quagmire, it has become evident we are experiencing what we hoped would not happen; i.e., a prolonged, contentious debate focused on personality, instead of a common goal of making Pensacola healthier, increasing educational opportunities, and creating jobs. To the extent that the involvement of Quint and Rishy Studer caused some people to lose sight of this higher calling, we hope this decision will serve to quell that discontent,” said the Studers in their letter.

Williams of the YMCA greeted the news with gratitude.

“We are just overwhelmed at the generosity of the Studers. From our very first interaction with them, Quint and Rishy have been nothing but honorable, generous, and genuine in their heartfelt commitment to the YMCA’s mission of a physically, spiritually, and financially healthier community. We are grateful for this gift, which we believe to be one of the largest in the country to a YMCA, and are honored by their support and confidence in us,” said Williams. “Their generosity has given life to a dream that the YMCA has held for years of a new facility that enables us to grow our membership and thus expand our community outreach and charitable work,” continued Williams.

Michael Bodenhausen, CEO of the YMCA of Northwest Florida, echoed Williams’ sentiments on the size of the Studers’ gift.

“The Y and this community are blessed to have people like the Studers. We are honored by their support in what is one of the largest, private philanthropic gifts given to any YMCA in history,” said Bodenhausen. “Compare this to Jacksonville, which is building a $21 million new waterfront Y with a lead gift of $2 million and a population several times larger than Pensacola’s, or to other metropolitan areas like Houston or Nashville, and you get a sense of just how big a deal this is,” Bodenhausen continued.

Board Chair Williams also said that the Studers’ action gives the YMCA additional options for constructing a new, state-of-the-art, family YMCA.

“The flexibility that the Studers are giving us with this news is wonderful,” said Williams. “We still believe that a waterfront Y at the Maritime Park would be a win for the entire community, but this news gives us a whole range of options for locations, services, and programs, and we are so grateful to the Studers for their continued generosity to the YMCA and to our community as a whole,” Williams said