It was just about 100 years ago that some of the first conversations were taking place about bringing a YMCA to Whittier. Officially, we would not receive our charter until July 21, 1915, but the roots of our Association had already begun to take hold as early as 1911.
Today, the YMCA of Greater Whittier is a vibrant, growing and thriving Association made up of people of all ages who are, as our Mission states, “United in a common effort to put Judeo-Christian principles into daily practice and to enrich the quality of spiritual, mental, physical and social life of their families, their community and themselves.”
In 2011 a total of 11,343 people chose to become members of the YMCA of Greater Whittier. This was an all-time record high membership for our Y and represented growth of 8% over the previous year’s membership.
At the heart of our cause is a commitment to youth development. This was true at the start and it is still true today with 54% of our membership made up of those age 18 & under. In addition to our shared commitment of nurturing the potential of kids is our equally important focus on healthy living. As a result, our YMCA Board of Directors voted in 2011 to embark on a $3.5 million capital campaign to expand and modernize our East Whittier YMCA.
This important center of YMCA activity began serving East Whittier in an old fire house on Colima Road in 1964, moving to its present day location on Starbuck Street in 1970 after a community-wide capital campaign.
At the East Whittier YMCA, membership reached 3,400 members last year. This surpassed our strategic goal of growing to 3,000 members by 2011. Our aim is to increase our ability to build healthy, strong, confident and connected children, adults and families in our community. To do so, we will address significant facility constraints. Since the East Whittier YMCA was built more than 40 years ago, a lot has changed. The design and layout of the East Whittier facility lacks the flexibility to accommodate our new programs and severely hinders access for members with limited mobility.
After five years of organizational planning, we are ready to rebuild and expand the East Whittier YMCA. To address the emerging needs of our community such as the rise of two-income families, the changing demographics of our service area, and the skyrocketing rates of obesity; we have updated our programming and launched new initiatives designed to promote healthy living, bring families together, and enrich and engage children.
At approximately 29,000 square feet, the new East Whittier YMCA center will be approximately 26 percent larger than the current facility. The new Y will accommodate our ever-growing membership and allow us to expand our impact. The fastest growing program at the East Whittier YMCA is swimming. To accommodate our youth swim instruction, competitive swim team, recreational swimming and adult exercise classes; we will expand our aquatic facility by adding a new shallow-water training and recreational pool to our existing six-lane lap pool. More youth and families will be able to enjoy aquatic activities that build athletic, interpersonal and social skills.
The popularity of our youth gymnastics, sports and other programs means the multi-purpose room is in constant use. The expansion of this space will allow us to grow these programs and involve more children and teens in healthy, character-building and fun activities. Our programming focus on healthy living will be enhanced in a larger, more modern Healthy Lifestyles Center. Multiple exercise rooms will accommodate group fitness classes, strength training, and the personal fitness programs designed to address important health concerns such as obesity, diabetes and arthritis.
The design of the new East Whittier YMCA will reflect a focus on family and fellowship. A large, open and inviting lobby will provide opportunities for families to socialize and become more connected. With a new Child Watch area, there will always be something for every member of the family to do, individually and together. The men’s and women’s locker rooms will also be upgraded and a new family changing area will be added allowing parents to accompany and supervise their children for reasons of safety and comfort.
In addition, access will be dramatically improved with an increase of parking spaces and better access for those with impaired mobility. By reconfiguring and adding space we will be able to expand our ability to build a healthier community. This campaign will require significant investment of time and financial contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations that share our commitment to creating lasting and positive change for our community.
Finally, as we prepare our YMCA for our second century of service to Whittier and the surrounding communities; our 45 board members, 296 staff and 2,113 volunteers are committed to doing all that is needed to enable us to do the work of the YMCA even more effectively in the years ahead. I am especially thankful to our Board Chair, John Richmond, for his tremendous leadership and strong support in championing all of these efforts.
Thank you so very much for your faithful support of the YMCA of Greater Whittier in the year gone by. May God bless us all in the year ahead.
In His Service,
President & CEO