The Evolution of the YMCA of Edmonton
The YMCA of Edmonton was instituted by an act of Legislature in 1907 three years after Edmonton became a city. The original building officially opened in 1908 and offered a swimming pool, employment bureau, education classes, bible study, a gymnasium, running track, and residence. It was started by a group of prominent Edmontonians like Alex Rutherford and John A. McDougall, who helped raise nearly $28,000 to begin construction of a YMCA building. The Edmonton YMCA has grown concurrently with the City of Edmonton, and they have mutually supported each other’s growth and development – the YMCA, through its programs and services, and the City through working with the Y on capital projects.
The first YMCA building was replaced in the 1950's with the current Downtown Y building. This building went through many renovations, which have kept this facility on the cutting edge of health and wellness. The current Downtown Y offers a four-floor residence with 100 rooms, serving anyone – women, men, tourists, young people just getting on their feet – looking for safe and affordable accommodation. In addition, because there has been an increasing need for such safe, short-term housing, the YMCA supports people in need to make the transition to a self-sufficient lifestyle through resident support services.
The YMCA Enterprise Centre (now the Bill Rees YMCA Community Programs) opened in 1987 to assist the unemployed in finding meaningful work. Today, it helps thousands of youth and families through education support and employment programs. Three new state-of-the-art Family Membership Centres were later opened in the 1990's: Jamie Platz YMCA in June 1990, William Lutsky YMCA in November 1997, and Castle Downs in June 1998.
The YMCA of Edmonton also introduced Day Care programs in the early 1980's to help support working parents. Today, the YMCA of Edmonton is the largest not-for-profit child care provider in Edmonton, with 23 YMCA Day Care and Out-of-School Care Centres across Edmonton and Grande Prairie providing quality and affordable programs for children up to 12 years of age.
The YMCA of Edmonton has established a partnership with the Bogota, Colombia YMCA through its International Development Program, supporting their work with children living in the barrios and streets of Bogota, Colombia. This program strives to reintegrate the children with their families or to connect them with other resources to help get them off the streets. Based on the work of the Bogota YMCA, the Edmonton YMCA’s Family Ties program helps families in need get off of social assistance, and deal with problems by meeting with the whole family.
A 23-year-old draper named George Williams founded the YMCA, or Young Men's Christian Association as it was called back then, in 1844 in London, England. At that time, the YMCA served young Christian men, providing Bible study and prayer for the development of spirit, mind and body. In 1851, the first YMCA in North America was founded by a group of civic-minded people in Montreal.
Although the YMCA of Edmonton no longer provides Bible studies, it is just as committed as the YMCA's original founder was to the YMCA's mission to develop people in spirit, mind and body, by delivering programs that emphasize the values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. This mission is the central idea driving all of the YMCAs of the world, located in almost 120 countries.
The YMCA of Edmonton is open to people of all ages, backgrounds, faiths and abilities. Everyone benefits from its services regardless of ability to pay, through the YMCA Opportunity Fund. A portion of the membership fee for families and individuals in need can be provided. Today, the YMCA of Edmonton touches the lives of more than 75,000 people each year.
Building on the accomplishments and hard work of the past decade, the YMCA of Edmonton has completed a long-term $29 million Capital Campaign plan that reaches into 2010. The plan encompassed each existing YMCA facility and included the building of the new Don Wheaton Family YMCA in downtown Edmonton which was opened in November 2007.
The YMCA has a new Strategic Plan 2008 – 2013 and you can 2008-2013 Strategic Plan.