The History of the YMCA

George Williams founded the first YMCA in London, England in 1844 in response to unhealthy social conditions and the need to organize social activities for rural farmers who would otherwise fall victim to detrimental street life.   In 1851, the first U.S. YMCA was established in Boston, Massachusetts and by 1854, there were 397 YMCAs in seven nations totaling 30,369 members.  To this day, the Y has over 20.1 million members in the United States alone and is growing on a daily basis.  The YMCA idea was unique because it crossed lines that separated different churches and social classes.  Today, it is still building and enriching people’s lives daily.

In the early years, the Middlesex County YMCA served families and individuals living on the shoreline and in the Connecticut River Valley through programs held at local beaches, lakes, schools and churches.  In 1975, the Valley-Shore YMCA came to be when a community fundraising effort funded a brand new facility which included a building and pool on 26 acres on Spencer Plains Road in Westbrook with close access to Route I-95.  In 1982, a gymnasium, fitness center and childcare center were added, and in 2001, a second 25 yard swimming pool was added and membership swelled to 9,000 members.  Shortly after, in Fall 2006, the Valley-Shore YMCA acquired the School’s Out for Summer Day Camp program at the Country School on Opening Hill Road in Madison, CT.

For over 90 years, the Valley-Shore YMCA has had a positive impact on the lives of those who live and work on the shoreline and in the Connecticut River Valley area, by promoting programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body.  You can join anywhere, but you belong at the YMCA.

The Y is more than just a pool, a gym or wellness center.  The Y is a community of caring individuals and of families where honesty, respect, responsibility and, where building character values are a priority.  All YMCA members experience a sense of belonging and ownership that lasts a lifetime.