YMCA of Greater Whittier 1915 - 2016

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100 Years. 100 Reasons to Love the Y

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Grand Opening of our East Whittier YMCA

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Camp Arbolado Boys July 1938

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Celebrating New East Whittier YMCA

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1915 - The Young Men’s Christian Association of Whittier, CA is officially chartered

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Building Today For Tomorrow

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Camp 1936

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Our History

A group of Whittierites who strongly believed in the spirit and philosophy of the YMCA organized the Whittier YMCA at a meeting on November 25, 1913.  By April 1914 a secretary was appointed, given an operating budget of $2,861.50 and began directing the Y from an office above the hardware store.  The Whittier Y was incorporated on July 21, 1915, and from 1914 - 1916 meetings were held at the Whittier National Bank Building, and from 1918 - 1923 at the Knights of Pythias Club.  The first of the Y's famous swim instruction programs was started at the Whittier College pool and the popular HiY conducted its activities at the Friends Church.  A camp program was started within a few years, first in tents at Big Tujunga, still in tents at Barton Flats in 1920, and finally in the buildings of YMCA Camp Arbolado.  In 1923 an old barn that had been the Whittier College gym was dismantled and reassembled on Washington Ave.  The "barn" served as Y headquarters for 24 years.  A new building on Hadley at Milton was built in 1948.  In 1964 the East Whittier YMCA was opened in an old Fire House on Colima, moving to its new facility on Starbuck in 1970.  After Whittier's earthquake in 1987 the decision was made to build a new facility in the Uptown area, which opened in 1993.

The membership of the YMCA of Greater Whittier has grown from an original group of 117 in 1913 to more than 11,000 in 2011.  It has touched thousands of lives through its team sports, dance and swimming instruction, training of the developmentally disabled, RSVP volunteers, fitness programs, and youth leadership training.  It has become the largest childcare provider in the area.

Over the years, many men and women of great foresight, imagination and dedication have led the YMCA of Greater Whittier.  Our Y is poised to continue to meet the needs of Whittier and the surrounding communities in the 21st century.

Together, the nation's 2,617 YMCAs are the largest not-for-profit community service organization in America, working to meet the health and human service needs of 20.2 million men, women and children in 10,000 communities in the United States. Ys are at the heart of community life across the country: 42 million families and 72 million households are located within three miles of a YMCA.

YMCA stands for Young Men's Christian Association, but don't misinterpret this to mean that YMCAs are only for "young, Christian men." From its start more than 150 years ago, when George Williams founded the YMCA as a substitute Bible study and prayer for life on the streets, the YMCA was unusual because it crossed the rigid lines that separated all the different churches and social classes in England in those days. This openness was a trait that would lead Ys to recognize their strength is in the people they bring together -- Y's are for all people of all faiths, races, ages, abilities and incomes. The YMCA's financial assistance policies ensure that no one is turned away for reasons of inability to pay.

YMCA of Greater Whittier


Our Mission

To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.

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