HISTORY OF THE THOMASVILLE YMCA
In May 7, 1903, a meeting was held at the Presbyterian Church in Thomasville for the purpose of creating a YMCA. Ten days later, the Thomasville “Y” was officially organized. Property was deeded to the state YMCA, which in turn deeded it to the local YMCA. Within six months, membership had grown to 158 men and boys, and attendance at the Y activities totaled 3,278 for the half-year. Like Thomas Sullivan, who founded the YMCA in America, the founders of the Thomasville YMCA imagined a movement devoted to putting Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.
In 1904, the YMCA moved into its new building. It was only through the sacrificial giving of time and money by its members that the YMCA managed to stay open through the early years of its history in Thomasville. As late as 1933, in the very depth of the depression, a motion was made at one of the board meetings to close the YMCA due to lack of funds, but it was the belief in the purpose of the YMCA that compelled the board to defeat the motion and carry on.
In 1945, the Francis F. Weston Center was established on Clay Street. That facility was instrumental in offering children and adults in the community many valuable programs.
As Thomasville grew, the YMCA and the need for better facilities grew. In 1957, the W.R. Milton Center was built in its present location. The name of the facility honored W.R. “Red” Milton. The ‘80s and ‘90s continued the trend of more construction and new services, including programs for after-school care and full day care in the summer for working parents.
In 1999, the city of Thomasville and Thomas County governments contracted with the YMCA to provide the recreation programs for the community. This includes all sports programs (for adults, senior citizens and the Special Olympics) and events (such as the Rose City Run and Christmas parade). In that same year, $8.5 million was pledged to build a new youth facility and to renovate both the Milton and Weston centers. Certainly, the Thomasville YMCAs have evolved and expanded with the decades. Under strong leadership, a strong staff and thousands of volunteers, the Y’s mission is as strong now as it was in 1903. A tally of volunteer hours shows that more than 95,000 hours are given annually.
In 2002, the name of the Milton facility was changed to Everett-Milton Center to honor George Everett. Both men are recognized for their leadership and years of service as directors. The third center was also completed, and Butler-Mason Center was opened in January.
In addition to offering fitness programs, swimming and team sports, these centers have responded to other needs of area families. The Y Child Care and Weston Center offer working parents after-school care and summer programs.
Today, the Thomasville YMCA is a powerful association of men, women and children of all ages and from all walks of life joined together by a shared passion: to strengthen the foundations of our community.
With a commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility, the Y ensures that every individual has access to the essentials needed to learn, grow and thrive. Anchored in the community of Thomasville for over 100 years, the Thomasville YMCA has a long-standing relationship and physical presence not just to promise, but also to deliver, lasting personal and social change.