Where It All Began
The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was founded in London, England in 1844 by George Williams, a young sales assistant. Conditions in the big cities at that time were often unhealthy and the YMCA met an important need in society.
The first YMCA was organized as a place of Bible study and prayer that gave workers of the Industrial Revolution healthier options than what they were offered on the streets.
The YMCA concept grew and it made its arrival in the USA in 1851. Its evangelical foundation expanded to include improving man’s spiritual, mental, social and physical condition and later to emphasize the three focal points of spirit, mind and body.
Today, thousands of YMCAs across America serve over 20,000,000 members and include men, women and children, regardless of race, religion or nationality.
The Clarion County YMCA — Our Story
Bringing Quality Youth Sports to Clarion County
In 1985, Clarion County residents were seeking a quality youth sports program and approached the Oil City Area YMCA Association for help. With the assistance of the Oil City YMCA Association, Clarion residents created a branch YMCA at the Chamber of Commerce office in Clarion, PA.
This branch office eventually moved to the basement of F.L. Crooks & Co. clothing store located on Clarion’s Main Street, and it operated as a collection point for youth sports program registrations.
Making it Work
Volunteers aided by experienced staff from the Oil City Area YMCA Association developed youth programs by utilizing Clarion County fields and gymnasiums. This was the beginning of the Clarion County YMCA’s rich tradition of incorporating the YMCA mission and the spirit of volunteerism with the resourcefulness of using the strengths of our community. In 1999, area volunteers created a formalized Clarion County YMCA board of managers who were given the task of developing a physical YMCA site. This functioned under the direction and leadership of the Oil City Area YMCA Association’s board of directors and CEO. Soon after, the designed retro-fit of an existing community building became the current Clarion County YMCA wellness,exercise and fitness site. The site was staffed and fully equipped on July 1, 2000. Funds as well as new and used equipment were provided by the Clarion County community and the Oil City Area YMCA Association.
Watch Us Grow
In July 2005, the Clarion County YMCA board of managers and the Oil City Area YMCA Association board of directors made administrative and plan adjustments that birthed exponential growth in all areas of our YMCA. From 2005-2009, the Clarion County YMCA experienced a 211% increase in membership growth and because of our staff’s highly successful ability to engage members in YMCA usage, there was a 235% increase in facility utilization.
Our Youth Sports Programs have also experienced tremendous growth since 2005, resulting in a 300% increase in our Pre-K through 6th grade developmental youth soccer program to 400 participants. We have also grown our Pre-K through 6th grade developmental youth basketball progam to 600 participants and have had a 300% increase in our 1st through 6th grade flag football progam from 75 players to 225. In addition, we’ve expanded our facility, tripling the size of our weight room and our variety of cardio and resistance training equipment has increased due to partnerships with the Clarion Hospital and our association partners at the Oil City Area YMCA.
A Bright Future
The Clarion County YMCA exists today because the people of our community had a vision and worked together to see it through. We look forward to a wonderful future of growth in the Clarion community as we move forward with the YMCA mission to build strong kids, strong families and strong communities.
“The light just keeps getting brighter for the Clarion County YMCA. It is so wonderful to see so many kids impacted by Clarion County YMCA youth programs and also to experience such a tremendous growth in our adult and senior adult programming. Because of our large variety of services, we just keep attracting new people!”
–Joe McNamara, Clarion County YMCA former president 2008-2009
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