History of the YMCA
• 1846 - Early settlers obtained land to establish a community, Greenville’s earliest settlers formed a community that consistently grew and thrived.
• 1880s - The town’s economic engine was cotton, and railways ushered in a population boom that included many families with progressive mindsets. Greenville was a unique place to live with three colleges, an opera house and many civic organizations.
• 1895 - A group of citizens recognized a need within the community and formally organized a local YMCA, making it the fifth in Texas. Its first location was above Graham Brother’s Store in downtown.
• 1899 – A fire destroyed the Graham Brother’s Store. The Y relocated to the Simpson Building
• The Greenville YMCA hosted the 16th convention in its new location.
• 1914-1918 - During WWI, along with its schedule of classes, the local Y supported the local United War Workers campaign. This effort helped to provide stationery, envelopes, chocolate, tobacco products and razors to our troops overseas. Our contributions also helped fund “huts” in the war zones that were used by military personnel as “…clubs, theaters, stores, churches, libraries and writing rooms.”
• 1918 - Another unit of the Greenville Y was organized at the local Burleson College campus. With 50 charter members, President B. F. Masters commented that “… with equipment already on hand, and [with more expected] … the religious, social and physical life of the members will be well cared for.”
• The First Baptist Church young ladies organized its YMCA auxiliary the same year, holding weekly scheduled meetings. .
•1921 - The YMCA sponsored its first unit of the Employed Boys’ Brotherhood as a way to mentor young teens in the workforce.
• During that same year, the Employed Boy’s Brotherhood sponsored the first annual “Father and Son Banquet.” Following a meal prepared and served by area women’s organizations, the programs included music and presentations by a panel of area fathers and sons that focused on aspects of building and strengthening relationships.
• The Y Brotherhood continued to grow in membership and activities through the Second World War. In the late 40's however, the Y struggled to find a home and was mainly ran through the Greenville Youth Center across from the then High School on Wesley Street near downtown and now the headquarters of GEUS.
•1956-57 - The late Col. John H. Miller, then Greenville's Mayor, suggested the creation of a YMCA and discussed his concern with community leaders and won immediate support from the Greenville Kiwanis Club. Col. Miller was instrumental in getting the Y to Greenville. In 1957, the Greenville YMCA incorporated and
received its charter from the National YMCA Council.
•1959 - The Summer Day Camp program for children began.
• With an agreement between Paul Mathews, current Y chairman, the Hunt County Youth Camp and benefactor Mrs. Leslie Newman, the Y would have indefinite access to 80 acres in the Kellogg community as a campsite area. The generosity of “Camp Harlow” allowed staff to have activities for the day campers beyond the Y facilities.
• Feb. 12, 1961 - The ground-breaking ceremony for the current 20,000 sq. ft. facility
• Lloyd Dawson was hired as contractor and Roy Kilmer & Sons as architect; the Stanford Street location was the result of Greenville’s largest financial drive. Once completed, the facilities were seen as the most modern and flexible YMCA building in Northeast Texas. It included
• meeting and game rooms;
• racquetball/handball courts;
• spaces for specific exercise classes;
• areas for the HIGH-Y Clubs for teenage boys and TRI HIGH-Y for teenage girls;
• a gymnasium that accommodated full-size basketball courts;
• a 25 yard, 4-lane, heated, indoor pool;
• men’s and women’s locker rooms.
• Those businesses or individuals who contributed $250.00 or more to the campaign were given a silver ceramic tile to sign, while a $500.00 donor would sign a gold one. Known as the “Builders Wall,” these were permanently placed in the pool area on the north wall.
• With the building complete, the Y was able to expand its programs and activities that catered to the community. “Family Night” was once a month with specific events that encouraged families to play together. These could be from anything to volleyball, softball or badminton competitions, cookouts, game night, dances or family swim.
• In a continued effort to offer a wide selection of classes to its diverse membership, during the 1970s water programs increased.
• Red Cross Life Saving and Water Safety Instructor training classes were available,
• youth swim teams trained and competed regionally,
• year-round swim lessons, and daily,
•pool-based exercise programs expanded.
• Stain glass classes were formed,
• diet workshops scheduled and the
• teen clubs kept a busy calendar of parties and meetings.
• 1977 - “Slimnastics” started as a class that would focus on “…firming muscles and reducing trouble spots, energy boosting exercises as well as face firmers and tension relie[vers] will be taught.”
• For the next decade, the YMCA provided a full slate of year-round activities and programs for boys, girls and adults. Every season but winter, the baseball, softball and soccer fields were a Crayola box of team jerseys as children of all ages experienced competing as members of team sports.
• 1986 - A fund-raising campaign in 1986 raised well short of the $1.5M for needed renovations, but the Y was able to fix and repair the… "pool, roof, heating, ventilation, new plaster, deck and filtration systems; a newly painted exterior and reworking of outside lighting; a remodeled fitness center with a VCR for exercise tapes; a steam room and massage area for women; and an air-conditioned free-weight room with quality equipment. The gym floor [was] redone, backstops re-hung and smaller portable rims added for children’s basketball.”
• 1991 - Clean Greenville presented its “Award of Distinction” to the Y for its efforts in recycling and keeping the grounds and buildings clean and attractive. Given that during that summer alone, 51 sports teams competed, bringing 1,800 area children and families to the Y property, to maintain the facilities and be recognized for the effort was quite an honor.
• During the same year, the Y recognized the Ray and Dana Jackson family as its “Family of the Year.” The Jacksons and their three children began their association with the Y in 1983 through the soccer program, and quickly expanded to volunteer coaching several teams a season with emphasis on stressing drills and teaching fundamentals.
• 1997 - The “Extra Innings” after school program opened. Designed for kindergarten through 6th graders, trained staff would offer a healthy snack, homework assistance and planned physical activities until parents arrived for pick-up.
• Also during this time, the Active Older Adults hosted “The Taste of Greenville.” As a way to raise funds to replace the furniture in the card room, Active Adults prepared dishes that were judged by categories, then, through pre-ticket sales, they served a delicious lunch buffet.
• While the YMCA continued to operate its existing programs, it also supported community endeavors by its members participating in Youth under Construction, Jingle Bell Run, the Cotton Patch Classic Bike Rally, 5-K runs, bike races and the Dale Weeks Memorial Golf Classic. Beyond its tenets to provide excellent programs and a safe environment for all, the Greenville YMCA continues to add new programs for all ages that encourage and promote healthy lifestyles.
• YMCA 2011 membership is over 2,500 and represents residents of Hunt, Hopkins, Van Zandt and Raines’ counties – 2,707 square miles.
• The current population of Greenville is 26,000; it’s the county seat, and the largest city in the county. The Dallas metroplex is 50 miles west. Numerous major corporations are located here, and many people commute daily to jobs in Greenville. With research suggesting that for every dollar invested in wellness yields a three-dollar return, in 2011 the YMCA began “GET FIT GREENVILLE” lunch meetings to help business leaders learn how to establish effective wellness programs for their employees.
• The YMCA also recognizes that obesity in children has doubled in the past 20 years, and it continues to rise with 35% of Texas schoolchildren being overweight or obese. A child who is obese by age 12 has more than a 75% chance of becoming an obese adult. Studies show that overweight children miss three or four times as much school as children who are not overweight and often struggle with social problems such as depression and/or low self-esteem. They also increase their risk for Type 2 diabetes and long-term illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, asthma and certain cancers. According to the State of Texas State Health Services, the annual costs associated with excess weight in Texas was projected to reach $15.6 billion by 2010 and could skyrocket to $39 billion by the year 2040. Therefore, the Y provides proactive programs for children that can curb these statistics in our community and promote healthy lifestyles. And for the adults who struggle with overweight and obesity issues, the YMCA has programs to assist them through physical activity intervention.
• The Active Older Adults of the YMCA come in and out of the doors throughout the day. They are engaged in exercise programs, use the Nautilus equipment, attend book reviews, play cards or compete in bridge or domino tournaments. These men and women set an example before the younger members of how important it is to maintain a lifetime of physical, social and emotional health.
• Targeted for growing families, once a month the YMCA sponsors “Family Night.” Open to the public, planned activities encourage families to enjoy various events: Winter Festival, Father-Daughter Dance, Healthy Kids Day, Picnic Supper, Easter Egg Hunt, and Movie Night. For parents who come to use the YMCA facilities during the weekday, “Child Watch” provides trained caregivers for their children ages 6 weeks to 6 years old.
• With the city’s median age of 35, and 65% of the population married, the Greenville YMCA has the unique position to engage teens in positive and productive behavior; provide after school and summer camp programs that promote intellectual curiosity in a safe environment; and offer health and fitness opportunities that can benefit all residents.
• More than a century later, the YMCA of Greenville not only continues to provide healthy alternatives for the citizens, but it also strives to offer programs that help us “come together by investing in a stronger, healthier community.”