TAMPA – Way back in 1889 Tampa got its first taste of the YMCA. Back then it was for young Christian men.
You might say that things have changed a little in the past 125 years.
From that first, tiny YMCA has grown one of the larger YMCA organizations in America. The Tampa Metropolitan YMCA has been celebrating the anniversary with a variety of events.
As Communications Director Lalita Llerena said, the area’s YMCA organization didn’t last this long by sitting still.
That’s evident by the 125th anniversary wellness challenge. Members are asked to work out a minimum of 125 minutes each week throughout March. The challenge is part of he YMCA’s ever-changing philosophies. Now, the YMCA is focusing on drowning prevention, childhood obesity, closing the academic gap between schools of various demographics, and dealing with simple health issues such as diabetes. All those goals harken back to its original goals of spiritual, intellectual and physical development.
“Since its inception in 1889, the Tampa YMCA has focused on community service, either by opening our doors to those in search of leading healthier lives or through outreach activities that take us beyond our Y walls and into the surrounding community,” Llerena said. “The Tampa Y excels at strengthening the foundations of community by supporting whole families, serving all ages, and infusing our core values of honesty, respect, responsibility and caring at all operational levels.”
As the Tampa Bay area evolves, Llerena said the YMCA changes right along with it.
“As the area changes, we change,” she said. “Things don’t stay the same so we adapt to it. As long as we are there for the community, we do what it takes.
Today, the Tampa Y includes 10 family facilities, four wellness centers, two golf facilities, a Community Learning Center in Sulphur Springs, an outdoor adventure camp in Riverview, a youth and family center in Carrollwood and 33 afterschool program sites. Through these sites and dozens of community outreach projects, the Tampa Y serves more than 167,000 children, teens, active older adults, cancer survivors, chronically-ill community members, at-risk youth, infants, toddlers and families each year.
“It’s been 125 years now and we plan to be around for another 125,” Llerena said. “We are always going to be growing.’’