March 8, 2016
by Steve Wallace, CEO
The YMCA of Auburn-Lewiston is staring down a pretty significant birthday. On February 17, 2018, we will turn 150 years old, making us one of the oldest organizations in Auburn -- as old as the city itself!
We’ve served many different missions during that time. Originally a residence and gathering place for men working in the mills along the Androscoggin River, the YMCA has evolved to meet the changing needs and demographics of our community.
Though founded as the Young Men’s Christian Association, we are open to all -- men and women, young and old, from every faith background.
The YMCA is a gathering place. A resource. A lifeline.
Today, we serve more than 2,800 members in Androscoggin, Oxford and northern Cumberland counties. We are home to more than 50 programs and services, including a fitness center, licensed and accredited child care, swim lessons, youth sports, summer camp at historic Camp Connor and wellness programs for people of all ability levels.
There has never been a greater need for a YMCA in our community. The Maine Health Gaps Report released in November ranked Androscoggin among the least healthy counties in Maine, coming in at 13 out of 16.
Such results are distressing, but we have known about these issues for some time.
One in five local children live below the poverty line, and 70 percent of adults and 36 percent of children are overweight or obese. More than 10 percent of adults are diagnosed with diabetes, and tobacco use among adults is above the national average. The list goes on.
The YMCA exists to address these problems in partnership with other local non-profits and our business community.
When you join the YMCA, you are joining a community organization dedicated to improving lives one person and one family at a time. It is a gathering place. A resource. A lifeline.
I am proud to say that everything we do is defined by and steeped in our core principles of honesty, caring, respect and responsibility. By nurturing these values, the YMCA has helped children and families lead lives of integrity and purpose for generations.
We celebrate that legacy and move forward with renewed energy to address the challenges that lie ahead. At the YMCA, we’ll work hard to be here serving you for another 150 years.
This column was originally published on Feb. 15, 2016, in the Lewiston Leader and Auburn Highlights.