The "C" in YMCA
As YMCA staff and volunteers, our dedication to the YMCA mission is so much a part of us that its practically subconscious…we almost forget that there are still many people in our community that don’t know what the Y does and why.
It was more than 150 years ago that a dozen young working men founded the YMCA in London. Their aim: to bring young men like themselves to God through Jesus Christ and to provide a safe, supportive environment where they and their peers could reject the vices of the street and develop, first and foremost, strong character.
Much has changed in the YMCA movement since those early days. YMCAs no longer serve only Protestant young men. Last year 2,686 YMCAs nationwide served almost 21-million men, women, boys and girls of all ages, ethnicities, incomes, abilities, and religions. As community needs have evolved, YMCAs have responded with a wide range of innovative programs and effective collaborations with other community groups.
One thing remains the same though, and that’s YMCAs’ commitment to putting Christian principles into practice. All the efforts and offerings of YMCAs across the nation are guided by the core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. And while these values are clearly represented in Christian teachings, they are the same values that help define strong character for people of all faiths.
Shared values hold families and communities together. And character development cannot be an individual pursuit, but must be a responsibility shared by the whole community. If we work together to live out our values every day and pass them on to our children, we can go a long way toward overcoming some of society’s most pressing problems.