YMCA of Owen Sound Grey Bruce
The YMCA of Owen Sound Grey Bruce is a charity dedicated to building a caring, healthy community by creating opportunities for all people to achieve personal growth in spirit, mind and body.
The YMCA of Owen Sound Grey Bruce will be a recognized and valued leader in making a positive difference to the health and well-being of our community through the provision of values-based programs and services that reflect the changing needs of our community.
Our Y's core values guide our everyday decisions and actions. We encourage everyone involved with the Y to accept and demonstrate these values.
- CARING: accepting others, being compassionate, generous, sensitive and thoughtful towards the needs of others.
- HONESTY: shown through integrity, fairness and sincerity in words and deeds, being trustworthy and trustful.
- RESPECT: acknowledging the inherent worth in oneself and others, treating others fairly and justly.
- RESPONSIBILITY: being accountable for one's behaviour, obligations and actions.
March 25, 2003
HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF THE OWEN SOUND FAMILY Y
OWEN SOUND YMCA
The Owen Sound Young Men's Christian Association was organized in May 1877 and the first officers were: John Tait, President; D. Ross, Vice-President; John Armstrong, Corr. Secretary; W. A. McLean, Rec. Secretary. In the early years, the Association was limited to small quarters on what is now 997 3rd Avenue East where they occupied a meeting hall and a reading room. In 1899 a building was erected on Poulett Street, now Second Avenue, with the firm of Christie and Agar leasing the lower floor. This is the building now occupied by Christie Hardware. The former building on 3rd Avenue East at 10th Street was erected by the Association and opened in December 1906. Built to meet the growing needs of an expanding community and membership, it was built at a cost of $20,000. Mr. G. N. Elliott was General Secretary at this time. The Association closed in 1929 but was reopened in 1936 under Mr. George Mosley as General Secretary.
In 1949, a survey was conducted by the YMCA Building Bureau and the need for a new facility was obvious. However, nothing happened at this time and it was not until the early 1960’s that it was decided that a new building would be erected.
OWEN SOUND YWCA
A group of young businesswomen concerned with social welfare problems organized the Owen Sound Branch of the Young Women’s Christian Association and became affiliated with the YWCA of Canada in 1920.
The former YWCA Residence, the home of A. B. Hay, was purchased to provide accommodation for young girls arriving in the city to attend school or to take up new positions. Miss May Notter, a Deaconess, was the first General Secretary and Mrs. John Armstrong, the First President. A large wing was added in the 19560’s. Upon amalgamation of the YWCA and the YMCA in 1966, the building was sold to the Co-operator’s Insurance Association.
More than 2,000 girls lived in the Residence, finding a temporary home with counseling when necessary. Classes in physical education and crafts of eleven types were an important part of the Y program. The Residence also served as a meeting place for women’s groups in community affairs.
AMALGAMATION OF THE OWEN SOUND YMCA-YWCA
As it became obvious to the men of the YMCA Board of Directors that their facilities were no longer functional or adequate, plans were laid for a new building. It was also evident to the women of the YWCA Board that the facilities at the YWCA would soon need to be replaced. Both Boards entered into a series of discussions concerning amalgamation of programs with special consideration given to the need for a young women’s residence.
It was agreed that rather than have two community campaigns to meet present needs, resources should be directed toward a community YMCA -YWCA. A Room Registry was organized to provide homes for out of town girls, with the understanding that its effectiveness would remain under review.
1965 CAPITAL CAMPAIGN AND BUILDING
The 1965 Capital Campaign and the Extra Mile Campaign raised some $700,000. With increased construction costs, the building and furnishings totaled $980,000. The Y negotiated a mortgage of $400,000. Construction commenced in late September 1966 and the Official Opening was held in December 1967. As pledges were paid, the mortgage was reduced to $208,500 in 1970. It was decided at that time to try to complete the Capital Program and eliminate the Mortgage. In November 1970, "The Last Giant Step Campaign" was launched and $171,000 was raised on a campaign objective of $250,000. The status of the mortgage as of January 1976 was $38,000.
CREATION OF THE FAMILY Y
In 1991, the Board of Directors of the Owen Sound YMCA-YWCA began a long term process of reviewing the organization’s mission and core values. Key to the outcomes of this strategic planning session was the desire by the Board for the Y to be viewed and programmed as a family organization. The mission of the organization was then reviewed against the missions of YMCA Canada and the YWCA of Canada for compatibility. A decision was made by the Board to withdraw support from the YWCA of Canada because their mission was too narrow a focus and the cost too great for the organization to continue. The new corporate name of the Association would be “The Owen Sound Family YMCA”, known as the Owen Sound and Area Family Y.
1992 CAPITAL CAMPAIGN
In 1992, the Board of Directors approved the implementation of a $1.5 million dollar renovation and expansion plan. The house to the south of the existing health and fitness facility was developed into a new child care through renovations and a new addition. The 1967 health and fitness facility was renovated to ensure program viability for the next twenty-five years. The lobby and change rooms were upgraded, a snack bar was added, most roofs were redone, a free weight room was developed in the lower level and air conditioning was added. The house to the north of the facility was purchased in the hopes of a new pool project with the City in the next three years. Unfortunately, due to the economic times, the pool did not go ahead. Instead, the house to the north was renovated and became the offices of the Y Community & Employment Services.
In 1996, the “Raise the Roof Campaign” raised $50,000 to go towards a new filter and roof for the pool. In 1997, an illuminated sign was installed at the front of the Y to promote Y programs and services.
YMCA COMMUNITY & EMPLOYMENT SERVICES
In the summer of 1983, the Y undertook a feasibility study to determine the need for youth employment counseling services. The result was the creation of the “Grey Bruce Youth Employment Service”, which officially opened its doors in January 1983. From its first small office above a drugstore, the service has grown tremendously. In the year 2008, Y Community & Employment Services had 26,646 visits to its Employment Resource Centres; worked with 1467 teens and adults in SkillsLink, Job Connect and Summer Jobs Service employment programs; provided housing support to 629 teens and adults; presented gambling education sessions to 3807 children, teens and adults; and provided alternative justice programs to 363 children, teens and young adults.
YMCA CHILD CARE SERVICES
From its beginnings in 1967 with a Nursery School, child care services have continued to grow. A preschool child care was added in 1982 and in 1992, moved out of the health and fitness facility and into its own newly renovated building to the south. The family home program was offered from 1984 to 2002 and provided care for infants to age 12. The before and after school program started in 1990 at Bayview School. It was in 1995 that the Y began operating a preschool child care and a before and after school program in Port Elgin. In the year 2008, over 1000 children were served by our child care services through 18 before and after school programs and 6 preschool centres, serving Owen Sound and the surround area, Port Elgin, Hanover, Kincardine and Ripley.
THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM
Starting the end of 1997, the Y embarked on a plan to upgrade the second floor of the health, fitness and recreation facility. Over the next two and a half years, the conditioning centre was renovated and new equipment was purchased in order to provide better services for adults. Memberships were updated to be more inclusive of programs and a preschool membership was added. In 1999, the parking lot was paved and the meeting rooms, offices and hallways on the second floor were renovated and air conditioning added to complete the modern look of the facility. These changes resulted in increased numbers of members and by March 2002 membership was at 2864, its highest ever. This includes all ages, from infants to seniors.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
In 1999, the Board of Directors established the Pool Task Force, which was charged with investigating the feasibility of a new regional aquatic centre. The current pool is heavily used and is at capacity. The Task Force includes representatives from the Y, but also from the City of Owen Sound, the Owen Sound Aquatic Club and the Better Pool Committee. All of these groups are interested in providing improved aquatic services to our community.
In March 2000, Leisureplan International was hired to do two market feasibility studies. The first study was very positive, finding that one third of the residents of Owen Sound and one quarter of the residents of the surrounding municipalities were interested in using improved aquatic facilities. The second study focused on how many adults would purchase memberships at a certain cost in order to use the new aquatic facilities and improved fitness facilities. It found that there would be an increase in members but the increase was not enough to financially sustain the facility. However, there was still a need for improved facilities on a casual use basis. As a result, the Y decided that it could not go forward on its own. The need for improved aquatic facilities was a community need so the Y started to work to find more partners to work with.
The Joint Pool Committee was formed and consists of representatives of the Y, the Better Pool Committee, the Owen Sound Aquatic Club, the City of Owen Sound, the Municipality of Meaford and the Township of Georgian Bluffs. They started meeting in 2003 and their goal is to develop a plan for a new facility that would be supported by the Councils of Owen Sound, Meaford and Georgian Bluffs and the Board of Directors of the Family Y. The work of this committee continues as it works positively towards a new facility for our community.
The Regional Recreation Facility Task Force, co-chaired by Sonya Mount and Tom Rice, continued with the vision of a new Family Y in conjunction with one or two ice pads located at Victoria Park. The recreation facility would be owned by the Y and would double the size of the current Y facility, adding a 25 meter lane swimming pool and leisure pool, a walking/running track, a fitness studio, gym, conditioning centre/free weights room and multipurpose space for seniors, preschoolers, child care, etc. The City would own and operate the ice pads.
In June 2008, a new market feasibility study was undertaken by Leisureplan Int’l and found that there was sufficient interest in membership to financially sustain the operations of a new facility. A fundraising study by Ketchum Canada was completed in January 2009 and found strong community support for a new facility and estimated $3 to 5 million could be raised. The City of Owen Sound will be putting in a Canada Builds grant application on May 1, 2009 for this new facility, in partnership with the Family Y, the Township of Georgian Bluffs and the Municipality of Meaford.
HISTORY OF THE WORLD YMCA
George Williams was born in 1821 at Dulverton, southern England. He left his father’s farm to become a drapery clerk in London. In 1844 he founded the Young Men’s Christian Association. Queen Victoria knighted him in 1894 for the great contributions he made to the world. He was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1905.
While in London, George became outraged at the drinking, gambling and prostitution that was rampant among the thousands of young men who had crowded into London at the height of the Industrial Revolution. He invited eleven other clerks from the company for which he worked to a prayer meeting in one of the company’s dormitory rooms. These clerks represented four Christian denominations – the Church of England, the Methodists, the Congregational and the Baptists. At their fifth meeting, the young men decided to call themselves the “Young Men’s Christian Association”. Their purpose was to “improve the spiritual conditions of young men engaged in the drapery trade and other trades”. In those early years, the members had no idea of the tremendous effect they were to have on the life of London and of the whole world. They set out to build personal lives which stood in sharp contrast to the manner of life the new social forces in England appeared to make inevitable.
Gradually, the prayer and discussion groups enlarged. The values and standards accepted by George Williams and his colleagues were those current in Protestant circles, but their method of winning men to these were new. There was little church formality, for their approach was simple and attractive, developed with an eye to the gospel and to the evils which lured the young men away from it. As counter attractions to these evils, the YMCA provided rooms with reading materials and organized teas, socials and lectures.
The YMCA idea caught on so rapidly that, in 1855, the World Alliance of YMCA’s was formed by a Swiss named Henri Durant, who later founded the Red Cross. Nine countries became members of this Alliance. By George Williams’ seventy-third birthday, the “Y” encircled the globe. Associations sprung up out of local enthusiasm in Germany in 1848; in the City of Montreal in North America in 1851; in Australia and New Zealand in 1855; Asia in 1889; and South America in 1893. It became the first world wide nonsectarian, religious movement. Today, there are 4 million YMCA members in 80 countries of the world. The World office of the YMCA is located in Geneva, Switzerland.