The first YMCA in the United States was founded in Boston in 1851. Eight years later there were more than 100 YMCAs scattered across the country. Early YMCA services included a library, regular prayer meetings, Bible classes, job location, and a list of decent places to live and eat. From the very first, the concept won the support of community leaders and businessmen who were searching for ways to improve their community.
The YMCA has changed remarkably over the years since its founding. It has remained flexible and has responded readily to the needs of the community. Today it is the largest health and social service network in the United States. There are over 2,000 YMCAs in the country, and worldwide the YMCA serves 30 million people in over 100 nations.
All YMCAs are locally organized, governed, and funded. Citizens provide the leadership and financial support for their own YMCA. The Licking County Family YMCA is governed by a Board of Directors who oversees the operation to serve the needs of our community.
One principle common to all YMCAs is the goal to provide a wholesome setting designed to foster principles of good character and citizenship. The YMCA's mission is:
"To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all."
These principles are the driving force behind the YMCA. That desire to help mold the kind of people who care about others, who are firm in their own sense of self-worth, who truly believe that everyone is a child of God, whose outreach is community-wide and worldwide, and who give leadership to others is the core of the YMCA. YMCAs are a worldwide fellowship of men, women, and children, of all races, religions, ages, and abilities, dedicated to uplifting the human spirit, developing skills and intellect, and improving physical fitness and good health.
Thirty-two years after the founding of the first YMCA in London, 35 young men from Newark, Ohio met in a Baptist Church and organized the Newark YMCA; now known as the Licking County Family YMCA. Mr. J. R. Davis, a young lawyer, was elected the first president on July 20, 1876.
Throughout our history the Licking County Family YMCA has been committed to enriching the lives of our members. The YMCA has been a leader in the physical, intellectual, and emotional development of local citizens in the Licking County area as well as providing programs and services designed to strengthen community life.
During the 1950s, the YMCA was the community center in Newark. Thirty various organizations used the YMCA for meetings and activities. When the school system could not fund kindergarten, it was the YMCA that filled the community need. The YMCA co-sponsored the College of Commerce, a secretarial and business skills training center. In 1962, the YMCA built the state's largest park and pool facility providing the community even more diversity.
By 1997, a new pool facility, health & fitness center, a new gymnasium, totally renovated locker room facilities, indoor walking/jogging track, aerobics room and updated mechanicals were completed. The Licking County Family YMCA was looking toward the future.
In 2003 the YMCA, thanks to the continued support of the community, constructed three more facilities; The John and Christine Warner Child Care Center, The Mitchell Family Recreation Center and the John and Mary Alford Outdoor Aquatic Center.
In 2010 the Newark Branch saw renovations of the Health and Wellness Center divided into four program centers, a Women/Youth/Seniors Health and Wellness Center, a Pilate’s Exercise Studio, and a Cycling Exercise Studio. The Women and Youth Center was converted into a Multi-Purpose room and Teen Center. The Woody English gym was renovated to include a HVAC system, new basketball standards, paint and installed a curtain. The entrance, lobby and front office was renovated to provide an inviting friendly atmosphere for the members and guests. The Reese Family Health and Wellness Center a 5,300 square foot Health and Wellness Center was completed on the east side of the Newark Branch.
Your Licking County Family YMCA has expanded to increase the effectiveness of its services to the residents of Newark and Licking County.
Our YMCA is a diverse and thriving family-oriented organization. Although membership is concentrated in Newark, we are actively providing youth, adult, and senior programming to the western and eastern portions of Licking County. While it is true that the YMCA prospers as a membership-based organization, its programs and services are available to anyone who wishes to participate. The YMCA exists to benefit everyone in the community. The programs and facilities of the YMCA are also integrated closely with municipal programs, especially those involving public schools. Without the YMCA, Newark and its surrounding communities would find themselves greatly lacking in program offerings. These programs focus on the teaching individuals of all ages the core values of "Caring, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility and Faith."