Alaina BeckMrs. CorbettAP LiteratureNovember 18th, 2011 History of the YMCA “We’re not a church. We’re not a denomination. We’re not an army. We’re not in thebusiness to replace churches, but many people who step inside a YMCA may never set foot in achurch. Our mission, our purpose, our reason why is to teach, train equip, ad see people takingresponsibility for their own physical, mental and spiritual well-being. We believe in the wholeperson” (“Some YMCAs Seek to Reclaim ‘C’ in the Name”). In the mid-1800s George Williamsstarted an organization meant to bring physical, mental, and spiritual values into people’severyday lives. Throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st Century it has developed into a communitysafe haven for people of every background and is still influencing the lives of everyone whowalks through the door, and the Young Men’s Christian Association plans on a bright futureahead. The 19th Century was the start of a new revolution in giving back to the community. Thecreation began “in 1844 [when] twelve young men led by George Williams founded the firstYMCA in London, England, their objective was the improvement of the spiritual condition of theyoung men engaged in the houses of business, by the formation of Bible classes, family andsocial prayer meetings, mutual improvement societies, or any other spiritual agencies” (Historyof the World Alliance of YMCAs”). Williams and a clan of eleven other men set themselves on amission to brighten and nurture the lives of men throughout the country by volunteering theirtime with athletic and Christian classes open to any Protestant man. The group had no idea what
they were starting and how much they would impact the world. A mere seven years later “retiredBoston sea captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan, working as a marine missionary, noticed asimilar need to create a safe “home away from home” for sailors and merchants. Inspired by thestories of the Y in England, he led the formation ... at the Old South Church in Boston onDecember 29, 1851” (“The Y: History-Founding”). The Boston Y was the first YMCA inAmerica, which led to the first African American Y in the world founded in 1853. A free slave,Anthony Bowen, was the person to found this facility located in Washington, D.C. (“The Y:History”). In connection with this Y, branches all over the country pulled together to help thesoldiers during the Civil War. The U.S. Christian Commission was created in 1861 to give reliefto soldiers on the battlefield. A recruitment of 5,000 YMCA volunteers, gathered by PresidentAbraham Lincoln, served the soldiers as surgeons, nurses, and chaplains (Maier 3). All of theaccomplishments that came about from the Civil War sparked interest even once the war wasover. One interest that sparked from this was the Y’s entrance into youth programs, which startedin Salem, Massachusetts, during the year 1869. Also the program ESL, English as a SecondLanguage, was established to develop Christian leadership through gymnasium activities (Maier7). The next stage of the YMCA involves the creation of multiple sports that are still populartoday. During the late 1800s, a change of pace in the forms of exercising was needed, which ledto new creations. Due to the need of physical classes, two popular sports, basketball andvolleyball, were invented in the 1890s by instructors at the Y. Basketball was created because aninstructor, James Naismith, was given two weeks in December of 1891 to think of a fun indoorsport members could play during the winter. Naismith hung two peach baskets at the bottom of asecond level track and went from there. Volleyball, first called mintonette, was created because
Beck 3another instructor, William Morgan, though basketball was ‘too strenuous for businessmen’. Hedecided to change this by combining basketball, handball, and tennis to create what now morethan 46 million Americans play (“The Y: History”). America’s most popular sport today,Football, played its first professional game in 1895, in which the YMCA played, sponsored, andlost 12-0 (Maier 11). By one action from a determined group of young men, a phenomenon wasdeveloped that would soon spread across the world. The YMCA had now reached out to more than 30 million people throughout the world.The 20th Century, in relation to the YMCA, was all about strong values and strong leaders.Kicking off he 1900s, with the help of the YMCA, the Boy Scouts of America was foundedFebruary 8th, 1910. A couple of years after this was the world’s first mass swim lessons. GeorgeCorsan created this type of environment to teach soldiers how to swim during World War I(Maier 12). Working with the Allied soldiers, basketball, baseball, and volleyball were givenwidespread exposure in Western Europe. YMCA women were also a part of the war efforts byhelping in France (Maier 15). The YMCAs not only wanted to help the citizens in the moment,they wanted to make certain the people were taken care of in the long run. The Chicago YMCAHotel opened its doors in 1916 with 1,821 rooms available. From then on, some YMCAsfollowed suit and offered dormitory style rooms for the unemployed or homeless (Maier 17).Some of America’s most influential people were guests at these facilities. Malcolm X, MartinLuther King Jr., and Dave Thomas were just a few of the many who entered the doors (FamousPeople and the YMCA). The early 1900s exemplified promise of the future to come. The late 1900s showed promise as well, but had to be earned through strife and changesof the world around them. “In 1942 YMCA staff worked secretly in U.S. interment campsholding 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II; the Y’s work consisted of clubs and
camping for the youngsters in the camps” (Maier 19). Since the Y was getting so much publicityfrom their many public actions, they decided to update their logo to something more eyecatching. The new logo created in 1967 was a red triangle and bent bar forming a ‘Y’ shape(“The History of the Y Logo”). During that year, racial discrimination was banned throughoutthe Y association. An example of this was stated be Reverend Andrew Young, “The YMCA, asmuch as any other institution, has a record of working for desegregation. The only place youcould meet in the South with blacks and whites together was the YMCA camp in NorthCarolina.” In the year 1970 the YMCA was finally desegregated due to a court case held in 1969(“Young Men’s Christian Association,” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia). Now showing theirtrue moral value the YMCA collaborated with the NBA to establish the Youth BasketballAssociation, which was created to stress skills and teamwork over winning at any cost by beinginvolved in a recreational sport (Maier 22). Close to twenty years later the Y gets recognized forits true acceptance of all cultures. The YMCA in Jerusalem was nominated for the Nobel PeacePrize in 1993 because it was the only place where Jews, Muslims, and Christians would freelygather and share experiences (Maier 23). The 20th Century showed the Y’s true colors by goingthrough hard times and still sticking to their original foundations of strong morals and values. By the early 2000s the Young Men’s Christian Association had expanded to 45 millionmembers in close to 120 territories and countries (“Young Men’s Christian Association,”Encyclopedia Britannica Online School). The 21st Century brought more horrendous events thatstruck closer to home. Volunteers from YMCAs around the country responded to crisis onSeptember 11, 2001, the Pacific Rim tsunami of 2004, Hurricane Katrina of 2005, and theearthquake in Haiti in 2010 by helping in any way they could. They rebuilt houses, brought oversupplies, or were simply there to comfort the ones who lost everything and all hope. During July
Beck 52004 they partnered with the CDC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, to reach membersto make the healthy choices in life (“The Y: History”). “In 2008, the Armed Forces YMCA andYMCA of the USA partnered with the Department of Defense in the YMCA Military OutreachInitiative, which funds memberships and child care services for families facing the hardships ofmilitary deployment” (“The Y: History”). With the world becoming more politically correct, theYMCA changed their name and logo to plainly ‘The Y’ to not discriminate against other culturesand religions (“The History of the Y Logo”). Throughout the hard times and the name changesThe Y has been able to keep their hope alive by keeping a strong mind, body, and spirit. The Young Men’s Christian Association has become a staple non-profit organization thathas developed over the course of the 19th, 20th, and 21st Century. Throughout this time the largeassociation has grown to become a safe haven for those of any culture and religious background.Over the past three centuries The Y has learned “that lasting personal and social change comesabout when [communities] all work together. That’s why, at The Y, strengthening community is[their] cause. Every day, [they] work side-by-side with [their] neighbors to make sure thateveryone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow andthrive” (“The Y: About Us”).
Works Cited“Famous People and the YMCA.” YMCA. N.p., Jan. 2008. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://www.oaheymca.org/media/2011oaheymcaorg/documents/famous_people.pdf>.“History of the World Alliance of YMCAs.” YMCA. N.p., 2010. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://www.ymca.int/who-we-are/history/>.“The History of the Y Logo.” YMCA. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://www.ymca.net/news-media/y-logo-history.pdf>.Maier, Daniel, ed. YMCA in America, 1851-2001: A History of Accomplishment over 150 Years. Chicago: n.p., 2000. Print.“Some YMCA’s Seek to Reclaim ‘C’ in the Name.” Christian Century: 18. Student Resource Center. Web. 14 Nov. 2011. <http://web.ebscohost.com/src/pdf? sid=474bcc11-1470-40d8-a879-03e4c9a5788b%40sessionmgr15&vid=6&hid=13>.“The Y: About Us.” YMCA. N.p., 2011. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://ymca.net/about-us/>.“The Y: History.” YMCA. N.p., 2011. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://www.ymca.net/history/>.“The Y: History-Founding.” YMCA. N.p., 2011. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://www.ymca.net/history/founding.html>.“YMCA of the Triangle.” YMCA. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://www.ymcatriangle.org/ About_the_Y/History.aspx#Q1>.“Young Men’s Christian Association.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. 6th ed. Columbia UP. EBSCO. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=384d52a8- df82-431d-973b-81c4a7c790aa %40sessionmgr112&vid=11&hid=113&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d %3d#db=a9h&AN=39041057>.
Beck 7“Young Men’s Christian Association.” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2011. Web. 14 Nov. 2011. <http://www.school.eb.com/eb/article-9078072>.