The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA was founded based on the core character values of Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility.
The YMCA continues to flourish because those values are as relevant to today’s world as they were in 1844, when a young drapery clerk named George Williams sought to develop a wholesome place for young people to escape the immorality of the London Streets during the Industrial Revolution.
By 1851, there were 24 Ys in Great Britain, with a combined membership of 2,700. That same year the Y arrived in North America. It was established in Montreal on November 25 and in Boston on December 29. From there, the YMCA grew quickly across the United States and Canada.
In 1908, the first YMCA facility was built in Tampa–a 50,000-square-foot building on the corner of North Florida Avenue and Zack Street. The building cost $100,000 and was funded entirely through contributions from individuals. This YMCA brought Tampa its first gymnasium and indoor swimming pool. It also had residential headquarters to provide housing for young men when they came to the city.
Over the decades, that first branch has grown to ten family facilities, four wellness centers, two golf facilities, an outdoor adventure camp and numerous program sites across Hillsborough and eastern Pasco counties. Each location provides the wholesome, life-enriching activities young George Williams envisioned so long ago. YMCAs all across America became an integral part of our culture’s fabric, sparking a spirit of creativity that has given us basketball and volleyball, both invented at the YMCA; the idea of night school which has enabled so many to further their education; and the concepts for healthy organizations including the Boy Scouts and Campfire Girls.
Today, the YMCA, the largest and oldest service organization in America, serves 17 million members in 120 countries. In Tampa Bay alone, we reach more than 160,000 individuals each year through membership, programs, and outreach activities in our community. Through Our Vision 2020, we have laid the foundation to take the Tampa YMCA into the future so we can continue to serve the Tampa Bay community for years to come.