YMCA Celebrates 172 Years of Making a Difference

June 6 marks the 172nd anniversary of the Y - a global organization that began with a simple but powerful idea: a strong, supportive community can help people build healthier, happier lives. Since its founding, the Y has grown into one of the world’s largest volunteer organizations, renowned for its commitment to helping people of every background reach his or her potential. 

From its humble beginnings on June 6, 1844, in London by George Williams and 11 friends, the Y saw to and met the practical and spiritual needs of young men flocking to London during the Industrial Revolution. Since then, the Y has grown and changed, meeting the needs of children, families and adults in 10,000 communities in the U.S. and 119 countries around the globe. Along the way, the Y is responsible for a number of innovations that influenced history and are part of our daily lives. 

For instance: 
•    Basketball and volleyball were both invented at the Y.
•    Night school and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes began at the Y.
•    The world’s first indoor pool was at a Y, and the concept of group swim lessons started at the Y.
•    The United Service Organizations (USO) was created with help from the Y, and the Peace Corps was patterned after a Y program.
•    Father’s Day was created at a Y.

The YMCA of Rock River Valley’s history dates back to 1858. Our first location was at East State and Madison Streets, what is now our Central office. The I.D. Pennock Family YMCA opened in 1964. The Y is proud to be a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening our community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Y serves 48,000 people through six area branches and is one of the largest nonprofit employers in the greater Rockford area, with over 600 full and part-time staff.