Originally organized in the late 1880’s, the Gaston County Family YMCA has upheld the remaining constant of the Christian Mission of the YMCA and the outstanding leadership provided by countless volunteers and staff. Together the Gaston County Family YMCA has evolved to ensure area youth and families have the opportunity to experience the YMCA mission which is “to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.”
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YMCA History in Gaston County
William P. Fisk first organized meetings of what would become the Gaston County Family YMCA in the late 1880’s at the corner of Marietta and Main St. as a place for men to gather to have bible studies, study sessions and meetings. The location would later serve as the first library in Gastonia.
The desire for youth and family programs in the community was revived and the YMCA sprung up again in the mid 1950’s. The city of Gastonia donated a large piece of land at the corner of Franklin Blvd. and Trenton St. to the YMCA and after a capital funds drive, enough money was raised for a full facility YMCA. J.D. Hicks was the first General Secretary of the Gaston County Y when it was incorporated in 1956, where he remained until the early 1980’s, before Bob Neely succeeded him until 1989. Jim Mercer held the position for three years and Phil Morgan became the fourth Executive Director in the fall of 1992 followed by Tony Sigmon in 2006. Sharon Padgett became the fifth CEO April 1, 2019.
After adding a second gymnasium and racquetball courts to the original facility in 1975 and a small pool and two additional racquetball courts in 1985, the Y continued to grow in the area. The association’s second branch, the East Gaston Family YMCA, was founded in 1992, which relocated and was renamed the Robert Lee Stowe, Jr. Family YMCA in 2000 to serve the Belmont/Mt Holly community. The Cherryville branch soon followed in November 2003 and the South Gaston Family YMCA was opened in the old Gaston Athletic Club in January 2004, becoming the association’s fourth branch. Our fifth location, William J. Pharr Family YMCA, was opened in 2008 in McAdenville, better known as ChristmasTown USA. In 2016 construction began on a New YMCA on Robinwood Road. This facility opened in December of 2017 as the Warlick Family YMCA, closing both the Central YMCA and South Gaston Family YMCA.
What We Stand For
The Y is a worldwide movement of more than 45 million members in over 10,000 neighborhoods across our nation who strive to achieve a “healthy spirit, mind and body” through cooperation and community strengthening programs. We work every day within our community to ensure everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive through our youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility programs.
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