It was in the mid-fifties that Walter Henry, dreaming of a DeKalb YMCA, contacted the Illinois Area Council of YMCA’s, which sent out Mr. Stuart MacDonald. Following this meeting was one held with the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and a nucleus of citizens, and the idea of the YMCA in DeKalb County took form. For the past 50 years, the YMCA has served as a steadfast resource in this community by creating a foundation for success including Facilities, Staff, Volunteers, Community Partners, a strong Mission and always a Vision for the future.
In August of 1957, the original DeKalb Family YMCA was incorporated and in March of 1958, it began serving the community in the facilities of the old Haish School . Many changes have occurred in the past 50 years since the YMCA opened. There have been changes in the community, changes in the name, the location and the facilities. Within the change, however, has been the continuing commitment to the founding purpose of this YMCA as it sought to promote the physical, mental and spiritual welfare of all who have entered its doors - regardless of race, color, creed or financial situation. Today the Kishwaukee Family YMCA boasts more than 10,000 members and provides over 2,000 scholarships annually to individuals in our local community. The mission remains the number one motivating factor for all initiatives undertaken by the YMCA.
From Ross Young's initial leadership (consisting of a team of 2),
to today’s staff count which numbers close to 150, the YMCA has been
fortunate to have so many dedicated and talented individuals working
towards our common goals. Many YMCA staff members develop close relationships
with members, and truly see themselves as companions on members' journeys
towards their goals.
The YMCA is about community. Volunteer leaders founded the Kishwaukee Family YMCA and over the years, hundreds of volunteer board members have served to further the mission. Today the YMCA utilizes the services of more than 500 volunteers annually. Without them, the Y could not be the community resource it is today.
The focus of the YMCA is to strengthen families - and by doing so truly does build strong kids, strong families and strong communities. By providing healthy programming which incorporates the core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility, they build children of character. …..Children with self esteem and confidence…..Children that will grow to build strong families. In our fast paced world, it can be difficult for families to find activities to share and time to bond. The YMCA offers a multitude of activities and events to bring families closer and make them stronger. Our community becomes a happier, safer and healthier place when strong families provide the foundation.
Outreach and Partnership
Not only in the past, but today as well, the YMCA realizes that building strong kids, strong families and strong communities, can't be done alone. From its very beginnings, the YMCA has considered community partners critical to achieving its mission. The Y is fortunate to have so many who have stood alongside them and helped them further the mission.
With a number of key initiatives for the future, today's YMCA continues on the path set long ago with a goal of strengthening the community through the Key Initiatives. Current Key Initiatives include:
- INCREASE DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS IN YOUTH
YMCA Programs develop positive values and build self-esteem., helping to prevent substance abuse, crime and delinquency by teaching the 4 Core Values of Caring, Honesty, Respect & Responsibility.
- IMPROVE COMMUNITY HEALTH
With the growing obesity epidemic in our country, the YMCA seeks to provide programs, classes and services to address this issue. Health & physical education programs also help reduce health care costs, improve the quality of life, and combat stress.
- IMPROVE YMCA PROGRAMS AND SERVICES THROUGH OUTREACH
YMCA provides facility usage to local area non-profits and other organizations to increase the success of their programs and the wellbeing of their participants.
- ENHANCE AND INCREASE PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATIONS
Multiple community events provide area adults, families and children opportunities to visit the Y and learn about healthy lifestyles thanks to the support of many partner organizations.
The YMCA realizes the importance of improving community health, and helping members find ways to begin leading a healthier life. With obesity levels already at an alarming rate, and diabetes on the rise, the YMCA is in a unique position to make a positive impact on the community. Because the YMCA goals and initiatives are not solely based on fitness, they are able to play a role in the mental, social and character aspects that encompass health as well.
The YMCA is about changing lives. It is about helping kids and families develop healthier lifestyles. YMCA work is about instilling values in young people today so that they will make better decisions tomorrow. Their business is about developing character and leadership skills and about lifting kids self esteem so that they can have hopes and dreams for tomorrow. Children with self esteem, values and social skills are better able to aim their sights high and resist peer pressure and bad decisions in their youth. If one could argue a starting point for a circular pattern, youth would be that starting point in the circle of building strong kids, strong families, strong communities. They are the very essence of the future of our community.
With 50 years of a solid foundation for success, the path has grown even wider now to accommodate a growing community with continuing needs for YMCA programs and services. Where will the next 50 years lead the Y? Wherever it is, it is certain that the YMCA will get there as a community - and always continue on a mission-driven path.