Good People, Good Causes: Benjamin Harrison YMCA
Writer / Kathi Moore
The YMCA was founded in London in 1844 but 171 years later it is still just as relevant an organization. The history of the organization is remarkable, with numerous sports invented at the YMCA such as pro football, basketball, volleyball and racquetball. It is also the largest and oldest social institution and the largest operator of swimming pools.
Each YMCA is a charitable 501c3 organization and is governed by a volunteer board. Our own Benjamin Harrison YMCA serves more than 1000 people per day who visit for child care, youth sports, aquatics, camping, health and fitness and day camps. The programs rely on membership fees, program fees and donations to operate.
The mission remains much the same as it did back in the 19th century; “Put Christian principles into practice through programs that build health spirit, mind and body for all.”
Executive Director Jenny Burgess says that translates to serving everyone. “We give $500,000 in community services and benefits each year.”
Burgess pointed out that the first and foremost task is YMCA Character Development. The Y is always working to challenge people to accept and demonstrate the positive life values of honesty, caring, respect and responsibility. This comes through every program they offer for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
Examples include the daily gym classes the Y coordinates for the Fortune Academy private school, the four family group exercise classes the Y offers to Harrison Hill Elementary families and the Saturday night teen nights they offer continuously (the only Y in Indianapolis that does this on a regular basis). Our Benjamin Harrison Y is also the first in the country to offer a free diabetes prevention program. It is part of the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program, and designed to help those at high risk adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles and reduce their chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
You can help support the mission of our local YMCA with donations, your volunteer time, or your membership! Find information here: indymca.org/centers/benjamin-harrison or call (317) 547-9622.