The History of the YMCA
Then, on an icy January night in 1983 the YMCA facility was gutted by fire, leaving the organization suddenly homeless. This catastrophic development marked a turning point for the Y movement in Kirksville. Led by Rod Sundstrom and Ron Mehlenbacher, the Y board abruptly expanded its vision beyond its storefront origins, and dedicated itself to building a permanent home for the organization.
Even as the devastated Y scrambled to provide classes in multiple venues around town, it embarked upon a massive fund drive to finance a new home. Never before had a private organization in Kirksville set out to raise $800,000.00, but thanks to the generosity of countless citizens, coupled with a gift of over fourteen acres of undeveloped land by Hollister, Inc., the YMCA not only met that goal, but surpassed it. Dedication ceremonies at the new site on Jamison St. took place on April 2, 1984, some 14 months after the fire had destroyed its headquarters.
From humble origins in a remodeled grain store, the Y organization has grown until it operates now out of a 28,000 square foot headquarters at the center of an acreage dotted with soccer fields. Starting with the dream of providing after school activities for Kirksville's children, the YMCA here has grown to serve more than 2,900 individuals from all age groups in northeast Missouri.
Even as today's board looks back with pride over many years of progress, it also looks eagerly toward a future of increasing usefulness to a loyal community that nurtures it steadfastly throughout good times and bad.
In 1844 George Williams started the first Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in London, England to substitute Bible study and prayer for life on the streets. Over the next 188 years the YMCA has evolved into what it is today; influencing the lives of millions throughout the generations. As the YMCA has grown and developed throughout the years, the one steady principle throughout the history of the YMCA has been its dedication to Christian values and the idea of fostering, preserving and advancing the Christian purpose. This principle has been a constant for generations and will continue into the future.
The Adair County Family YMCA understands the importance of this principle. Our Christian Emphasis Committee seeks to better support our members in building a healthy spirit, mind and body. This committee considers ideas, projects and activities that will foster, preserve and advance the Christian Purpose.