SERVING OUR COMMUNITY SINCE 1894
The Sewickley Valley YMCA was formed on April 1, 1894. In December 1894, a lease was made with the First National Bank (the current Citizens Bank site) for the second and third floor, the second being used for an office, reading rooms, parlor and assembly room; and the third devoted entirely to a gymnasium. During the first year, 322 members were served.
By 1898, the current facility was inadequate to handle the needs of the members, and a building fund was established. By years end, $10,000 had been contributed, and a lot on Beaver Street (site of the Sewickley Baptist Church) had been purchased at a cost of $6,100.
In 1903, Henry Oliver gave the Y a six-acre plot at Blackburn and Backbone Roads as a site for the new building. On May 16, 1904, the Sewickley Valley YMCA opened its doors to a new state-of-the-art building. Membership stood at 700. The facility, still in use today, had a swimming pool, gym, dormitory, bowling alleys, a reading room, lobby, locker rooms, and a billiard room. The athletic field was used for baseball, football, tennis and quoits.
In 1919, land adjacent to the Y property was acquired and included a building which was used for programs for women. Prior to this time, the Y served only men and boys. There was, however, a Women’s Auxiliary that had functioned for 25 years and essentially was a service organization. The Y opened all its facilities to girls and women in the late 1920s.
During the depression of the 1930s and war years, the Y developed a USO Center and was the major trainer for Emergency First Aid (over 1,200 people certified).
In the late 1940s, the Y gave a 21-acre parcel of land to the community to create War Memorial Park.
In the mid-1950s, a capital renovation campaign enabled the Y to renovate it worn out facility. In 1968, the first major facility addition was completed, which included a second swimming pool, gymnasium, locker rooms, meeting rooms, and offices. At that time, membership of the Y was approximately 1,500 people. The Y also added a new program thrust to include service to the “whole family.”
By the early 1980s, the Y membership exceeded 6,000 people. Programs were added to serve preschoolers, seniors and the handicapped populations.
In 1987, a capital campaign succeeded in renovating the entire facility and added a running track, an enlarged gymnasium, cardio-vascular training area, and strength training room, offices, meeting rooms, and made the facility handicapped accessible.
In the past decade, the need for quality, affordable child care became apparent and the YMCA responded with a complete child care service and the establishment of the Y’s new preschool, the Children’s Center for Creative Learning at Edgeworth Elementary School. The Y also expanded its service areas to include not only the Quaker Valley School District, by the school districts of the Moon Area, Cornell, and Ambridge.
The Y reaches out to numerous community organizations providing leadership and facility usage, serving 11,500 members today. Throughout its entire history, the Y has maintained a policy of never turning away a person because of his/her inability to pay.