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YMCA Celebrates 180 Years of Strengthening Communities

YMCA Celebrates 180 Years of Strengthening Communities

June 4, 2024

YMCA Celebrates 180 Years of Strengthening Communities 
YMCA of Greater Brandywine Celebrates Milestone with Giveaways and Donor Match 
(West Chester, PA) – On June 6, 1844, George Williams and 11 other young men gathered in London for a meeting that led to the founding of the YMCA. 180 years later, YMCAs across the globe are serving communities through swim lessons, childcare, youth development, social connection and many other ways that contribute to the health of the community. 
To celebrate this milestone, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine (YGBW) is giving away prizes to members and prospective members. Members who visit a YGBW branch between Jun 3 and Jun 14 may win a prize such as a free month of membership, a 30-minute personal training session and more. Prospective members who visit between Jun 17 and 28 can take advantage of in-branch offers such as no join fee and more. 
To add to the celebration, a generous donor has offered to match donations to YGBW – up to $30,000. All funds will be used to grant need-based scholarships for swim lessons, childcare, summer camp and more.

“180 years is a long time,” comments Bertram L. Lawson II, President and CEO of YGBW. “But in that time, the heart of the Y’s work remains unchanged. We are the largest nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities. We’re incredibly proud of the impact that we have on our community.”  
A Mission Fueled by Donors
YGBW is committed to serving all in the community and does not turn away those who cannot afford their services. Instead, the Y offers need-based scholarships through their Financial Assistance program.  
“We’re in the middle of our annual campaign and are 80% to our goal,” Lawson continues. “Last year, we helped more than 11,000 members of our community through more than $2.2 million dollars in scholarships.” 
“It is incredible to touch the lives of our members in a positive and meaningful way,” he continues. “You can feel their gratitude because they don’t know where to turn without our services like summer camp and childcare. These are not optional services but ones that enable our members to work and provide for their families. I feel blessed to serve our community.” 
YGBW relies on the generosity of donors to provide need-based scholarships to the community. In honor of the Y’s 180 birthday, all donations to YGBW will be matched, up to $30,000. To contribute visit
A History of Innovation
In addition to providing life-altering services and programs, the YMCA has a rich history across the globe. The YMCA is associated with holidays, sports and institutions that touch our lives to this day. Below are just a few. 
  1. American Institutions
    Celebrations such as Father’s Day, and organizations like the Peace Corps, all have their roots at the YMCA.
  2. Summer Camp
    The oldest known summer camp, Camp Dudley, first opened in 1885 and countless numbers of youth have since learned the skills and wonders of camping through the Y, developing critical skills and making memories along the way.
  3. Innovating & Inventing
    From James Naismith's invention of basketball to instructors creating racquetball and what would eventually become volleyball, the Y has a rich tradition in activities that are played by millions of people around the globe. One Y staffer, Robert J. Roberts, is credited with inventing the term “body building.”
  4. A Nobel Peace Prizewinner
    YMCA leader John R. Mott was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for the Y's groundbreaking role in raising global awareness and support and for the organization’s humanitarian efforts.
  5. Furthering Education
    The Y is credited with spearheading the first public libraries, night school for adult education and English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.
About the YMCA of Greater Brandywine  
The YMCA of Greater Brandywine (YGBW), an association of nine YMCAs and Program Centers serving Chester County, is a leading non-profit organization committed to building community. We strive to nurture the potential of every child, promote healthy living and foster social responsibility through life-changing programs for all. YGBW raises funds to provide financial assistance to those unable to pay the standard rates. In 2023, $2.2 million was provided to more than 11,000 individuals to ensure they had access to childcare, summer camp, programs and memberships at YGBW. More than 60,000 people are members of YGBW. To learn more, visit   
Photo Caption 1: Campers form friendships at YMCA Summer Camp.  


Additional Info

Media Contact : Katie Begandy, 610-643-YMCA (9622) ext 2110,

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