On June 6 the YMCA marks 174 years as more than a place, it is a nonprofit organization that offers programs and services designed to foster youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
Here are five past notable events and achievements that demonstrate the Y’s commitment to the communities it serves:
1. American Institutions: Celebrations such as Father’s Day, and organizations like the Peace Corps, all have their roots at the YMCA.
2. Summer Camp: The oldest known summer camp, Camp Dudley, first opened in 1855 and countless numbers of boys and girls have since learned the skills and wonders of camping through the Y, developing critical skills and making memories along the way.
3. Innovating & Inventing: From James Naismith's invention of basketball to instructors creating racquetball and what would eventually become volleyball, the Y has a rich tradition in activities that are played by millions of people around the globe. One Y staffer, Robert J. Roberts, is credited with inventing the term “body building.”
4. A Nobel Peace Prizewinner: YMCA leader John R. Mott was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for the Y's groundbreaking role in raising global awareness and support and for the organization’s humanitarian efforts.
5. Furthering Education: The Y is credited with spearheading the first public libraries, night school for adult education and English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.
How the Y is relevant in 2018
Today, the Y serves more than 22 million people annually and offers resources at over 2,700 locations across all 50 states. Here are three ways “community” continues as the Y’s number one cause:
1. Nurturing the Potential of Our Kids: When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Nationwide, the Y helps over nine million youth to close gaps in hunger, health, learning, water safety and safe spaces while providing a place to stay healthy, build friendships, and achieve more – all while having fun! Each program demonstrates the Y’s unwavering commitment to ensuring children are on track for a successful education, especially those in underserved communities.
2. Improving the Nation’s Health: More than a place to work out, the Y offers programs that help individuals and families improve their health and enact changes that strengthen their community and society. From working with people who are trying to find ways to improve health, but don’t know how, to preventing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and helping people recover from serious illnesses like cancer, the Y is one of the few organizations in the country with the size and influence that can effectively reach millions of people. Ys are also active in the community, creating communal gardens, increasing access to farmers markets and ensuring children have a safe route to school.
3. Support for All Our Neighbors: As one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, the Y's social services and volunteer programs help more than 10,000 communities nationwide. From helping newcomers and immigrants adjust to new communities to member-led community service projects through the Togetherhood program, every effort helps to make a difference.
Photo: Camp Dudley, first YMCA camp
Source: Kautz Family YMCA Archives