Millie Schumacher, community relations director for the Family Y, was the guest speaker for the March meeting of the Senior Men’s Club of Aiken held at Woodside Country Club.
Schumacher surprised some of the men by noting the origin of the YMCA was not in this country, but rather in London, England, in 1844.
In those days, the population was moving from rural England to large cities as part of the Industrial Revolution. Although temporary housing was provided to these young men, their spiritual needs were not being satisfied. The YMCA was founded to provide both housing and a Christian, caring atmosphere.
George Williams was the founder, seeking to provide a good atmosphere for developing a healthy body, mind and spirit. Another surprise was that basketball and volleyball were invented or created at the YMCA, Schumacher said.
The Family Y is one of the largest faith-based organizations in the world, reaching 10,000 communities in the United States and is in 120 foreign countries, Schumacher said.
The Family Y is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the United States and is also one of the largest providers of child care in this country, Schumacher said.
The logo for the “Y” is the third most recognized organization symbol behind No. 1, Cola-Cola, and No. 2, McDonald’s, Schumacher said.
The Augusta Y was opened in 1858, 155 years ago. The after-school program was started in Aiken 20 years ago. It then moved to share the facility at Hitchcock Healthcare in March 2008 until the new Aiken County facility opened at 621 Trolley Line Road in Graniteville in January 2012.
This new facility offers child care (age 8 weeks to 12 years), active swim sports and play for teens (10 years and older), tae kwon do and personal training.
Drawing and painting classes are among the many programs furnished for all ages. Youth team sports offered include soccer, baseball and T-ball from June 13 to Aug. 1.
Schumacher suggested the Senior Men’s Club of Aiken stop by at the nearest Y to see first-hand what excellent facilities are available for the communities.
She also mentioned the opportunities to “give back” to the area by volunteering at the Family Y. There are 50,000 Family Y members in the CSRA and 1,500 active volunteers.
In response to a question, Schumacher said the facilities are available for rent to organizations.
She also said the new outdoor pool in the Graniteville facility is planned to be covered by an inflatable dome enabling use of the pool year-round. Timing for that will depend on funds to be acquired.