On June 6 the YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge, and South Amboy will celebrate the 172nd birthday of the YMCA movement. Serving Greater Middlesex County since 1921 this YMCA remains a relevant provider of services both traditional and contemporary.
The hallmarks of the YMCA, such as basketball and swimming are now complemented at the YMCA of MEWSA with early learning programs, school age child care, programs for cancer survivors and volunteer opportunities outside the YMCA. Three YMCA Facilities, Summer Day Camps, the Oakcrest Swim Club and 10 Early Learning Centers are more than places, they represent a movement which offers programs and services designed to foster youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. YMCA District Executive of Operations, Lisa Sanguiliano leads the team which manages the YMCA facilities. For Sanguiliano service to the members is the most important part of what her staff offers. “Members are the core of the YMCA, without them we would not exist. Our staff wants to provide programs which meet the interests of the members. When someone joins the Y they do more than belong, they are part of something much bigger. Our members enjoy the benefits of using the YMCA while supporting programs and services for the whole community. As a charitable organization our services go outside the walls of the YMCA. We offer scholarships to those who cannot afford the full price of our YMCA. We provide volunteers, through our Togetherhood™ program, for other organizations with special projects. The YMCA has changed a lot over the years. We want to keep up with the trends and needs of our communities.” Here are five past notable events and achievements that demonstrate the Y’s commitment, globally, to the communities it serves:
1. American Institutions: Celebrations such as Father’s Day, and organizations like the Peace Corps, all have their roots at the YMCA.
2. Camping Under the Stars: The oldest known summer camp, Camp Dudley, first opened in 1855 and countless numbers of boys and girls have since learned the skills and wonders of camping through the Y, developing critical skills and making memories along the way.
3. Inventing New Ways to Play: From James Naismith's invention of basketball to instructors creating racquetball and what would eventually become volleyball, the Y has a rich tradition in activities that are played by millions of people around the globe. One Y staffer, Robert J. Roberts, is even credited with inventing the term “body building.”
4. Nobel Laureate: YMCA leader John R. Mott was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for the Y's groundbreaking role in raising global awareness and support and for the organization’s humanitarian efforts.
5. Furthering Education: The Y is credited with spearheading the first public libraries, night school for adult education and English as a second language courses.
How the Y is relevant in 2016
Today, the Y serves more than 22 million people annually and offers resources at over 2,700 locations across all 50 states. Here are three ways “community” continues as the Y’s number one cause:
1.Nurturing the Potential of Our Kids: When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Nationwide, the Y helps over nine million youth to close gaps in hunger, health, learning, water safety and safe spaces while providing a place to stay healthy ,build friendships, and achieve more – all while having fun! Each program demonstrates the Y’s unwavering commitment to ensuring children are on track for a successful education, especially those in underserved communities.
2. Improving the Nation’s Health: More than a place to work out, the Y offers programs that help individuals and families improve their health and enact changes that strengthen community and society as a whole. From working with people who are trying to find ways to improve health, but don’t know how, to preventing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and helping people recover from serious illnesses like cancer, the Y is one of the few organizations in the country with the size and influence that can effectively reach millions of people. Ys are also active in the community, creating communal gardens, increasing access to farmers markets and ensuring children have a safe route to school.
3. Support For All Our Neighbors: As one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, the Y's social services and volunteer programs help more than 10,000 communities nationwide. From organizing volunteers when disaster strikes to member-led community service projects through the Togetherhood™ program, every effort helps to make a difference.
YMCA President and CEO, Rose Cushing, encourages everyone to “try the Y”. “Our doors are open to everyone. Please visit a YMCA for a tour of what we offer. You will receive a free guest pass for you and your family to come back and visit. Once you experience the energy found at the YMCA you will want to be a part of this historic organization.” For contact information to schedule a tour and for details on how your YMCA, the YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge and South Amboy, is creating a better community visit our website:www.ymcaofmewsa.org .