History of YMCAs around the world

In 1844, George Williams founded the first YMCA in London, England. His objective was the “improvement of the spiritual condition of the young men engaged in houses of business, by the formation of Bible classes, family and social prayer meetings, mutual improvement societies, or any other spiritual agency.”  Now around the world, the Y serves more than 45 million people in over 120 countries.  To learn more international history: www.ymca.int/who-we-are/history/

History of YMCAs across the country

In 1851, Thomas Sullivan founded the first YMCA in Boston, Massachusetts inspired by the stories of the Y in England.  The Y invented basketball, volleyball and racquetball along with starting group swimming lessons, ESL classes, Father’s Day, summer camp and so much more.  The Y has helped many organizations get their start like the YWCA, Boy Scouts, USO, Gideons and Toastmasters to name a few.  The Y even helped President Kennedy form the Peace Corp.  Now across the country, the Y engages about 9 million youth and 12 million adults in 10,000 communities.  To learn more national history: www.ymca.net/history/

History of the Rogue Valley Family YMCA

On June 6, 1944, the YMCA of Medford, Oregon becomes incorporated in what was the Federal building on North Riverside Avenue.  Dr. Bert Elliott was the first YMCA President.  During the war years this had been used as the USO headquarters.  In 1944, hired Executive Director, Ben Schmidt (then called a General Secretary) and under his leadership the programs for youth flourished and plans were undertaken for a building campaign.

In 1947, Bessonette and Graff Construction Company proceeded to build an activity center for youth, adults and families.  The building was valued at $206,000 but cost the community in actual dollars less than $120,000 due to volunteer labor and materials.  From 1945 to 1949, the Y used the Masonic Hall and space over the old Acme Hardware Store on 6th Street before moving to the present building.  On May 22, 1949, the building was dedicated in a ceremony with the Governor present although some records show the dedication was on June 17, 1949.  Archie C. Pierce was first Chairman of the building.

From 1948 to 1959, the Y developed a camp at Diamond Lake known as Camp Elliott.   D. Ford McCormick and Archie C. Pierce were the key drivers in planning the camp and procuring needed materials.  In 1949, hired Executive Director Robert L. Jones until 1963 then hired Executive Director Don Muhlig from 1963 to 1971.  In 1968, a capital campaign was conducted to make facility improvements.

In 1971, hired Executive Director Mike Murphy until 1997.  In the 1980s, the Y partnered with the Eagle Point School District to operate the White City pool until 1998.  The Y also partnered with the Medford School District at their request due to financial trouble to provide youth sports programs, afterschool programs and alternative education.  In addition, the City of Medford had funding cut backs and asked the Y to take over their child care programs.

From 1990 to 1994, the Y conducted another capital campaign and constructed a new aquatic center, wet locker rooms and a child development center.  From 1992 to 2006, the Y partnered with Jackson County to operate Camp Apserkaha at Howard Prairie Lake providing overnight camping programs.

In 1998, hired CEO/Executive Director Mike Cronin until 2006.  With an emphasis on serving families, a new youth center was established in 2002 and bundled many fee based programs into the membership dues.  In 2005, the Y explored a partnership with the Wes Howard Foundation to help develop a sports park and potentially a new YMCA facility on 68 acres in West Medford.

In 2006, hired CEO/Executive Director Brad Russell.  The Asante Foundation assists the Y to become financially stable.  In 2007, the YMCA of the USA facilitates the completion of a comprehensive strategic plan.  The Board decides to not build a new YMCA facility and instead begins a stage-by-stage remodeling effort starting with roof repair, the climbing gym and the child development center.

In 2009, the aquatic center remodeling project is completed with an ultraviolet water sanitizing system (first in southern Oregon), improved air flow system, automatic handicapped entrance, new lane lines and new starting blocks.  In 2010, started new outreach effort for gang influenced youth and Central Point Parks & Recreation asks the Y to manage the school’s afterschool child care programs.  Remodeled the youth center and both fitness areas including all new fitness equipment.

In 2012, the YMCA starts to organize the entire Pear Blossom Run thus becoming the YMCA’s signature program.  Facility remodeling continues with a new aquatic center roof, remodeled racquetball court, new circuit & stretching room, new aquatic center handicap lift, new cardio fitness equipment and new phone system.  All new outdoor YMCA signs are mounted due to the new national YMCA logo and focus areas of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

In 2013, the board completes another comprehensive strategic plan with feedback from existing members, new members, child care parents, youth sports parents, swim lesson parents, and local Y staff.  In 2014, raised $600,000 for capital improvements called the “remodeling campaign” to improve the lobby, gymnasium, youth center, roof, climbing gym, natural playground, heating and air conditioning units, bathrooms, locker rooms and child watch area.  A new fire monitoring system and surveillance cameras installed.

In 2016, the remodeling effort continues exceeding a million dollars invested in the facility.  The YMCA reserves fund goes over $200,000 due to Floyd Hayner’s bequest and a gift from Sherm and Wanda Olsrud.  A pipe bursts flooding the aquatic center mechanical room but thanks to insurance a new mechanical room compliments all of the remodeling that was done years earlier.

In 2018, many partnerships are strengthened especially with Jackson Care Connect.  In addition, conversations about expansion happen with the City of Eagle Point and the Eagle Point School District plus the Housing Authority of Jackson County.  A professional research study provides results so the board of directors can set the next strategic plan.