Besides a contagious theme song, a good number of people worldwide would probably associate the YMCA most closely with the idea of charitable community service. The YMCA is among the world’s largest and most well-recognized charities, as well as one of the oldest: the first YMCA opened its doors 172 years ago, in London. It was the brainchild of George Williams, a London draper. After noticing a lack of wholesome pastimes available to city youth, Williams decided to found an organization which would provide young people a clean, virtuous space for city living and recreation. Since then, the YMCA has massively expanded the scope of both its vision and reach, becoming a truly colossal charitable effort; “The Y” currently benefits more than 57 million men, women and children across 125 countries, and serves over 10,000 communities in the United States alone.
Today’s YMCA holds true to the wholesome virtues which motivated Williams to create the organization, however their focus has evolved to encompass needs and charitable objectives on a highly inclusive, global scale. The current YMCA seeks to familiarize communities worldwide with common ideals of empowerment and peace. While providing healthy recreational activities still remains a priority, the modern YMCA also emphasizes a need to engage in combating global issues such as violence, racism, gender inequality, natural resource destruction, and diseases such as HIV. The following are few of the YMCA’s stated goals:
- Developing self-confidence, self-respect and an appreciation of individual worth
- Growing as responsible community members
- Appreciating mental and bodily health as gifts, and fitness as a condition to be achieved and maintained
- Recognizing the value of all people, and working towards achieving ethnic and cultural understanding
- Fostering a sense of world-mindedness
- Building capacities for responsible, community-focused leadership
- Appreciating the beauty, diversity, and interdependence of all forms of life, and creating an ethical basis for guiding human relationships with the natural world
Why/How You Should Get Involved
Caring, kind people form the backbone of the YMCA’s network of community support. Becoming active in the YMCA involves immersing yourself in the warm glow of a global neighborhood, where the goal is fostering growth and providing a space for anyone to thrive, no matter their age, income or background. The Y relies on the efforts of people strongly invested in strengthening community ties and facilitating positive potential locally and globally. Interested donors, advocates, and volunteers can click here to learn more about how they can contribute.