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City to help fund Diversity, Inclusion and Equity initiative

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the position of at-large councilwoman Lori Braucks.

City of Hastings will become a financial partner with the YMCA and the school district in their diversity initiative.

The Hastings City Council voted unanimously Monday, July 9, for the, but only after discussion.

The group asked for $19,000 in financial support. The money will be split over two years, adding $9,500 to the budget for 2018 and allocating the other half to the 2019 budget.

Although the contribution was approved by all present council members, some expressed concerns that the money should come from elsewhere.

"I lobbied pretty hard to see if we could get the YMCA to solicit funds from other community organizations before coming to the city," Councilman Joe Balsanek, Ward 2, said. "I still felt it would be better, if this is a program that is going to include the community, that we should ask the community for funding, either as private donations or donations from organizations, like the Legion, the VFW, the various churches in town and so forth."

He added, "Do understand that I am not opposed to the program that the YMCA is proposing to present to the community, in terms of a multifaceted initiative. I embrace it. I welcomed it. It certainly is needed, and it is a worthy goal that we should all strive to achieve."

At-large city councilwoman Lori Braucks, who was originally not in favor of the proposal, said she supports the city being involved in the initiative.  

“I think there is a place in our community for social movements, and I think the public more and more is demanding that the cities and states and federal government get involved in things in a leadership capacity," Braucks said. "So while I, in general, there are times that constituents demand something and need something that I did not agree with, but I am willing to support this because I think it is important that everyone’s voices are heard equally”  "We have to be willing to step out, move forward and carry the torch when other people might not be on board," Braucks added. 

Councilwoman Lisa Leifeld, Ward 3, added that it is important to remember that it was not something that the YMCA came to the city with, it was the community. Leifeld later suggested that it's time to take action toward a partnership. "As a city, i think, It's putting our money where our mouth is, and saying this is important to us as a community, that we are going to step in. We are going to put in this money. And you're right" she said to Balsanek, "$19,000 is a lot of money. Saying that is a lot of money and trying to put a price tag on the future of our community, I think $19,000 will be a drop in the bucket when my children's children, and such, are looking at a diverse and welcoming community."