The YMCA of Ross County—part of the very fabric of our community. Wherever there has been compassion, brotherly love, charity, and the desire to make ourselves as good as we possibly can be, the spirit of the YMCA has been there—weaving and ever strengthening thread of supportive programs and services.
In 1917, the YMCA existed with a significant presence at Camp Sherman. Numerous YMCA buildings provided recreation and socialization for the soldiers in training at the United States Training Base. The photo in the background is one example of a YMCA building at Camp Sherman. It wasn't until a decade later that local leaders decided that a YMCA should be a permanent fixture in Ross County.
It was in April, 1928 that Luther B. Yaple announced a campaign to raise funds to establish a YMCA in Ross County. The first Board of Directors was established in November of that year. The Board included:
Ben M. Segal
Dr. Blaun Sigler
Charles M. Haynes
J. P. Clagett
J. V. Doersam
L. B. Yaple
L. C. Macbriar
M. G. Phillips Sr.
Adam W. Mummey
J. B. Mallow
R. K. Perry
On April 16th, 1928, Luther B. Yaple announced a fundraising campaign to establish a YMCA permanently in Ross County. The campaign raised $6,000. Later that year, the YMCA established a a Learn-to-Swim program as well as a summer camp program which exists still today. In 1931, the YMCA moved from the Business College on South Paint Street to the third floor of the Carlisle Building, where the YMCA remained until 1939.
In 1935, a YMCA Women's Board was established to direct programs for women and girls. Later in the 1950's, the YMCA Women's Board would become known as the Junior Civic League of Chillicothe, as it is known today. In 1937, the YMCA came together with three other organizations (the Boy Scouts, the Ross County Welfare Association [now the Assistance House] and the Ross County Tuberculosis Association) to establish the United Way of Ross County. In 1942, the YMCA established the Newcomers Club, to welcome new area residents.
In the fall of 1939, the YMCA secured a home at 133 W. Second Street for $8,300. This location, next to what is presently Ware's Funeral Home, was the location of the YMCA until the current facility was established in the 1960's.
In April 1961, negotiations with Columbus and Southern Ohio Electric Company, as well as Chillicothe City Council, resulted in securing the current site of the YMCA. Thanks to a $500,000 fundraising campaign, ground was broke on March 10th, 1963. At Christmas that same year, construction of the original wood framed star was placed on Carlisle Hill by 22 youth members of the YMCA Hi-Lo Club. It was replaced with an aluminum frame 1971. The YMCA continues to operate the Christmas and Easter Star today. (Full Story)
On March 23, 1964, the present day YMCA was dedicated, consisting of the pool and main facility. The first Marlins' swim team began in 1966 coached by Jim Doersam and Rodger Hemmeke. In 1967, ground was broken for a new gymnasium (now used for gymnastics on the southwest corner of the YMCA).
Many local organizations were originally established or sponsored by the YMCA over the years, including Big Brothers / Big Sisters, Chillicothe Youth Soccer (1979), Scioto Valley Youth Flag Football (1969), and Chillicothe Youth Softball (1981). The YMCA also established the first gymnsatics program in 1971, and the first latchkey program in Ross County in 1983.
In 1993, the YMCA announced the expansion plans for a larger YMCA facility which was led by a $1.5 million fundraising campaign. The expansion was completed on August 25th, 1996. In 2015, the YMCA added a community playground located on the east side of the facility.
Over the years, the YMCA has been visited by a number of national figures including Bill Clinton in 1993 and Michelle Obama in 2008. The Y has also hosted important community events including Town Hall meetings, nationally recognized speakers and important community events.