The Development of Kishwaukee Family YMCA

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 66 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. In 1960, the YMCA leased the building at 149 N Third Street in DeKalb (shown below). The YMCA moved into their current location at 2500 Bethnay Road in 1970. Many changes have occurred in the past 66 years since the YMCA was charted. 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. 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 two), to today’s staff count, which is over two hundred, the YMCA has been fortunate to have so many resolute 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.


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