In 1844, George Williams joined with 11 friends to organize the first Young Men's Christian Association in industrialized London and history was made. The first YMCA offered Bible study and prayer to help keep young men off the streets. In 1851 the Y made its way to the United States via sea captain and missionary Thomas Valentine Sullivan who founded the first Y at the Old South Church in Boston to create a safe home away from home for sailors and merchants.
Locally, the Kosciusko Community YMCA was founded in 1962 in response to community need based on a survey conducted by the local Jaycees. To make the community a better place to live, work and play, many community individuals made significant contributions to the first capital campaign. They knew that support of the Y meant stronger and better character, bodies, minds and citizens for the years ahead. The original facility was dedicated on October 10, 1965.
In 1984, the Kosciusko Community YMCA Board of Directors determined that if the Y was to continue serving our community, a major building and renovation expansion project must take place. On January 7, 1985, the Y began a major fund drive to raise $1,500,000. The drive, to be known as Discover Excellence Y 85, involved over 150 volunteers. Through the efforts of these volunteers the Y received over 500 pledges, totaling $1,480,000. The new addition, at the Smith Street location, of a gymnasium, indoor running track, fitness center, offices, locker rooms and renovated pool was dedicated on May 9, 1987 enabling the Y to impact the community in even greater ways.
During the late 80's and early 90's, YMCA membership grew from 2,111 to 4,300 in six years. The Portraits of Community Campaign began in 1996. This project included the addition at the Smith Street location of a youth gymnasium, a larger fitness center and a warm water pool. Over $1.425 million in community support was generated. Ground-breaking took place on May 1, 1997.
For 50 years, the association has been a valuable and vital community asset for the residents of Warsaw and Kosciusko County. Over this period of time, the organization has expanded facilities and membership. In 2004, a second site was opened in North Webster.
On January 20, 2012 the Y secured 36 acres of property on US 30 and Mariners Drive. This site is the new home of the 70,000 square foot Parkview Warsaw YMCA opened in December of 2014. Our Mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy, spirit, mind and body for all.
The Y is more than a building, it's the nation's leading nonprofit focused on strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. It's a powerful association engaging nine million youth and 12 million adults in 10,000 communities across the country. Worldwide, the Y serves more than 58 million people in 119 countries.
I urge everyone to take advantage of the numerous opportunities that are available to us in our very own back yard. Kosciusko County residents are so very fortunate to have the YMCA and its many resources. Not only am I continuing to make positive lifestyle changes, I have met so many amazing people and continue to make new friends each time I visit.
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