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This Week’s LION: The “New” Y

Franklin D. Roosevelt once made the very profound statement that every organization is either living out the birth of a new vision or the death of an old one. The truth of that is evidenced by companies such as TWA that once had a virtual monopoly on trans-oceanic air travel and yet went bankrupt, or Encyclopedia Brittanica that was once the final authority on information and is now obsolete. Contrast those with a company such as Nokia that is a major global mobile network founded in Finland that began in the mid-1850s as a lumber company. The old adage is true, “When you are through changing, you are through.”

All of this is important to keep in mind when reflecting on the new and improved version of the YMCA system in Lycoming County. The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was originally founded in 1844 by George Williams of London, England to put Christian principles into practice by developing a healthy body, mind, and spirit. But almost from its inception, the YMCA had to adapt to changing social conditions. In the United States in the late 19th and early part of the 20th century, the organization found that it served a very valuable role in providing a “safe haven” for young men and women from rural areas who came to the cities to work. Throughout the 20th century, the YMCA not only provided a vital source of exercise for many young people through their gyms and swimming pools but played a major role in social development and community cohesiveness.

Always in the process of renewal, on July 11, 2010, the YMCA of the USA rebranded its name to the popular nickname, “The Y.” The logo was redesigned, and the mission emphasized that the Y is open to all, regardless of religion, social class, age, or gender. Lycoming County is very fortunate to be served by a network known as the River Valley Regional YMCA, that has branches in Williamsport, Jersey Shore, Muncy, Towanda, and Mansfield. The emphasis is on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

These Ys offer intangibles that are not obvious on the surface. A widow who attended an exercise program got a birthday card from a staff member, and the woman broke down in tears. She had not received a birthday greeting in years. One mother with two young children had a husband who was working two jobs to make ends meet, and felt trapped in her home. Through a scholarship, the family was able to join the Williamsport Y, and the mother was now able to drop her kids off at the provided child watch service while she exercised off her frustration with a group of other young mothers. The whole family has worked out a time when they can all swim together, which delights the children and serves a wholesome bonding experience for all. A family that was struggling is now thriving, in large part to the work of the Y.

The Y offers all types of wellness programs, health programs such as Diabetes Prevention and Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring, supporting cancer survivors, and an incredible before and after-school child-care program serving elementary schools throughout the area, as well as a full in-house pre-school from six months to pre-K.

The Y is currently holding their Annual Campaign and contributions help keep the Y available for the kids, families, and seniors who need them the most. Donations help provide 10% discounts to veterans, military members, public safety employees, as well as police officers, firefighters, and EMTs. $50 allows a senior to attend the Y’s social events for an entire year. $100 would provide a full-year youth or teen membership. $250 could give two children one full week of summer day camp. $500 could provide a full-year membership scholarship for an entire needy family.

More information about the Annual Campaign can be found by calling the Williamsport Y at 570-323-7134 or going to the River Valley Regional YMCA website,

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