The History of the YMCA of Long Island
Back in 1870, there is evidence the YMCA movement had reached Long Island and activities first began stirring in the City of Glen Cove. But the recorded origins of the YMCA of Long Island, Inc. go back to March 1916, when a group of local volunteers met in the Garden City Hotel, and voted the organization into existence. Its headquarters was in a small building near the Mineola train station. They hired a General Secretary and set out with a $40,000 budget – pledged by the community. Ambitious plans were laid which included widespread training of volunteer leaders to develop, conduct, and promote scouting and other boys’ activities. These activities included camps, bible study, lectures, athletics, religious work, health and recreation, educational and vocational classes, and an employment service. Unfortunately, all these plans were set aside when the U.S. was drawn in World War I a few months later.
For the duration of the war, the YMCA of Long Island devoted its full attention to the needs of young men and boys involved in the war effort. Two canteens were established to serve Camp Mills, an enormous Army installation then located in Garden City. The YMCA was also active in farm camps on eastern Long Island.
It was not until May 1919, that a formal certificate of incorporation was drawn and approved, and the Young Men’s Christian Association of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Inc., as it was called, was born. Long Island then was a rural area where farming was the main occupation and people looked to a few large villages and hamlets for social and cultural leadership. The fledgling YMCA found an immediate demand for its services and was soon active in 41 Long Island communities.
Today, the YMCA of Long Island, Inc. currently, operates six full facilities (Glen Cove, Huntington, Bay Shore, Holtsville, East Hampton and our newest location in Patchogue; 24 Childcare sites, four counseling locations and the Great South Bay YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts. We continue to look for new facility locations as the need for YMCA programs and services grows.