The YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo has had a long and colorful history. The first YMCA in Kalamazoo was started in 1866, just 15 years after Thomas Valentine Sullivan's first American YMCA came into being. Unfortunately, the Kalamazoo endeavor proved to be more difficult to sustain, and the YMCA disbanded in Kalamazoo in 1871.
The YMCA returned to Kalamazoo almost 15 years later with F.M. Hodge serving as the first Board President in 1885. The Y's 270 members moved into the organization's first building in 1892, where it stayed until a fire destroyed the building in 1911.
Undaunted, the YMCA staff and members set about constructing a newer, better building, and they succeeded in spectacular fashion. Over 50,000 people were on hand as President William Howard Taft laid the cornerstone of the new building at the corner of West Michigan and Park Street.
Since then, the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo has continued to expand and grow. The current Y Maple Branch - was built in 1970 to accommodate the 2,250 members the organization had attracted. In 1985, school-age childcare was offered at three sites, and by 1987 the YMCA had served over 20,000 people in Kalamazoo County.
In 1991, The Y expanded again when the Portage Branch opened on Centre Street, and two years later added the aquatics facility. In 1992, the Lincoln Family Program Center opened on North Burdick Street inside Lincoln Elementary School.
By the time the Y celebrated its 100 years of continuous service in Kalamazoo, membership had swelled to over 11,000 individuals.
Today, the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo continues to grow, while keeping an eye toward the future growth of the organization and the greater Kalamazoo community for the next 130 years and beyond.
Learn more about the YMCA through our Mission Statement.