Happy Birthday YMCA! 125th Anniversary in Lafayette

It’s time to celebrate: Happy Birthday YMCA!

The YMCA is celebrating a big birthday this year: the 125th anniversary of serving the Greater Lafayette area! That’s longer than any person has ever lived so far to date. A lot can happen in 125 years, and we are grateful that we have had the opportunity to be present in your lives and community for over a century.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

George Williams founded the YMCA in 1844
George Williams founded the YMCA in 1844

It’s time to break out the baby photos and reminisce about old times. The YMCA was originally founded in London in 1844 by a man named George Williams, whose goal was to provide a sanctuary for young men struggling with the stress of industrial and city life. While this concept of charity was nothing new to London, Williams’ idea was unique in that he aimed to provide wide support to anyone from all walks of life and social classes.

As time progressed into 1851, a retired United States sea captain, Thomas Valentine Sullivan, was inspired by the mission of the YMCA which led to the creation of a YMCA in Boston as a “home away from home” for sailors and merchants. Throughout the rest of the 1800’s American YMCA’s experienced great success in its compelling mission by creating housing opportunities for its members, hosting the nation’s first ‘English as a Second Language’ (ESL) classes, developing America’s first summer camp program (Camp Dudley) and providing countless services for university students.

First group swim lessons hosted by the Y in 1909
First group swim lessons hosted by the Y in 1909

The 20th century brought further success to the YMCA as our organization continued giving back and building strong communities. For example, the Y launched a national, radical new swimming campaign in 1909 in an effort to teach every man how to swim. The Y also provided morale and welfare services for families and the military during WWI and WWII. The first Healthy Kids Day was launched in 1992 to promote healthy youth development, and a national arts and humanities program was developed and founded in 1998.

Today, the Y continues to do inspiring work that enhances its national reputation. We helped Michelle Obama launch her “Let’s Move” campaign to end childhood obesity. We have provided relief efforts for national disasters including September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, the Pacific Rim tsunami in 2004 and the Haitian earthquake in 2010. We established a partnership with the pharmaceutical giant, Eli Lilly, to develop our Healthy Family Home program which aims to inspire healthier lifestyle and nutrition choices for families. Throughout all these efforts and changes, we have never veered from our original mission to create a welcoming environment for all.

Our four core values underscore everything that we do.

Without these values, achieving our mission to put Christian principles into practice to promote a healthy mind, body and spirit for all would not be possible.  Here are the four areas of focus we pride ourselves on:

Caring: We pledge to demonstrate a sincere concern for others, for their needs, core valuesand well-being.

Honesty: we promise to always tell the truth, to demonstrate reliability and to promote trustworthiness through actions that are in keeping with our stated positions and beliefs.

Respect: We will always treat others how we would want to be treated, value the worth of every person and live out acceptance, empathy, self-respect and tolerance on a daily basis.

Responsibility: Our employees with always do what is right, and will hold each other accountable for their choices, behavior, actions and promises.


Thank you, Lafayette

We have been located here in Lafayette, Indiana for 125 years this year. It is amazing to think that we have been here since 1889 and are proud of our work and role here in the community. We have incredible members and staff who go over and above in making the YMCA the place to be! We have continued to grow over this past century and are excited to see what comes next! Thank you for being a part of the amazing community that makes up the YMCA!

Come join our family.

birthdayBecome a part of something that is bigger than yourself. We offer different membership tiers for individuals looking for a variety of services, which can be viewed here. The Lafayette YMCA believes that our programs and services should be available to anyone, which is why we also offer financial assistance to fit everyone’s budget.

If we can accomplish all these incredible feats in 125 years, think what the next 125 will bring! Our birthday present to you is that we pledge to continue our mission of compassion and never give up on our goal to help strengthen individuals and communities all around the world. Thank you for your continued support.


Your Y Family


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