Sour Economy Keeps Odessans at Home for Spring Break

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Odessa workers are leaving the oil fields and heading for the gym. The economic slowdown has West Texans trying to find a less costly way to spend Spring Break, and many are deciding to hop on a treadmill or splash in the pool. The roster at the YMCA is one of the fullest on record.

Staff members at the Odessa YMCA tell NewsWest 9, everything from the weight room to the swimming pool is jam-packed. Because more and more West Texans have little or no money for a vacation, the Odessa YMCA is more popular than ever.

One Odessa Man has been a Odessa YMCA member since the 6th grade. Instead of a vacation, his family decided to spend time at the YMCA.

"I'm working during Spring Break, so I won't get out of town," Odessa YMCA member Ray Munez, said. "But my grandkids are down here and staying with me."

NewsWest 9 had the chance to speak to several YMCA members on Monday and most of them said because they lost their job, they had to cancel their vacation plans and look for entertainment at home.

"Probably because of the problems, a lot of people are unemployed," Maria Tercero with the Odessa YMCA, said.

The child care center has been so busy, they've brought on several new workers.

"We always try to prepare ourselves so we have the training and everything a little before time, so we won't be so caught off guard," Odessa YMCA Child Care Director Michonne Sutton, said.

This year, the YMCA is even hosting visitors from all over the state who decided to stay with family instead of spending money on a vacation.

"A lot of people are going out to visit their families, but then we have a lot that are staying here for Spring Break too," Tercero said.

But some are concerned if the economy stays sour, the outlook could change at local gyms.

"If they don't have the money to pay for a membership, it's going to start to be hard for people to even go to the YMCA." YMCA Member Joe Whitley, said.

So the Odessa YMCA is working on a scholarship program helping those families who may not be able to afford their membership anymore.

"There's a locking down the hatches type attitude," Munez said. "It's getting nervous out there, but just grind it out and see what happens."

Because there's been so many families at the YMCA, program directors have expanded many activities for children.

Just this week they added several new sport groups like skating, swimming, basketball, and even classes for kids to keep up with their schoolwork during the break.