As the Joplin Family Y prepares to celebrate 130 years of serving our community, we take time to reflect on our beginnings and recognize the positive impact we have made in our community. On February 11, 1891, a small group of citizens gathered to start the Joplin Family YMCA. Within a month, rooms for this new organization were acquired above a bakery on Main Street. This group of community leaders were called to serve our community through the Y by putting Christian principles into action. That is what we have strived to do ever since.
The Y has faced many challenges over the years, and continues to be a resilient organization. The past 18 months have deeply tested this resilience with a global pandemic, economic crisis, social unrest, and racial injustice. Ys across the country rose to these challenges and stayed strong, just as we did here in Joplin.
We found new ways to serve our community during a time when we had to pause our traditional programming and services. We remained focused on our purpose of strengthening our community. Our Y staff and volunteers worked tirelessly through this time, providing safe spaces for our kids to learn, offering child care so our essential workers and frontline staff could have peace of mind, and we continued checking in on our vulnerable neighbors and friends. We know this community is strong and resilient. Over the past 130 years, we have been through so much together. Through economic downturns, major wars, health crises, and natural disasters, we stand together as a community. The Y has been and will continue to be here when our community is hurting. We are here to lift everyone up, to provide a sense of comfort and security, and to help lead us forward.
Over the past 130 years, our buildings may have changed, but our mission remains the same: “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.”
Our cause has not wavered. We are here to strengthen the Joplin community through our focus areas of Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. Each day, we work side-by-side to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow, and reach their highest potential.
We continue to build on all these experiences and innovations over the past 130 years. We are wiser and better because of them. We move forward together as a community, and we will continue to revitalize our Y for future generations. We are hopeful. We are resilient. We are the Y.
Juan “Cookie” Estrada
CEO of the Joplin Family YMCA