YMCA 100 Years

The centennial celebration is underway at the Kroehler YMCA in downtown Naperville. For more than 100 years “the Y” has been serving the Naperville area. Even after a century, the Kroehler YMCA is still creating memories from swimming lessons and camp outs, to indian guides and youth sports. Naperville resident Evelyn “Evy” Schum joined the Kroehler YMCA in 1950, and at 90 years old made the one block walk to help celebrate all the memories the YMCA has given her and her family.

“My kids all went to camp and were counselors,” said Evelyn at the celebration held at the Kroehler YMCA. “Everything we did was volunteer and it has been a great 60 years.”

It all started in 1909 when businessman Peter Kroehler organized members of the city to raise money to build a YMCA in Naperville. In just over two weeks, the entire population of less than 4,000 residents were able to raise $26,260. That is almost $12 million dollars in todays market.

Over the years, the YMCA has been through many changes, but one core value has remained a constant throughout the years.

“I think the YMCA is one of the important building blocks of any community,” said executive director of the the Kroehler YMCA R.J. Bartels. “It’s available to all, and nobody is turned away for their inability to pay.”

At the start of 2011, the Kroehler YMCA merged with the YMCA of Metro Chicago to ensure the Y’s continuation for the next 100 years.

“They bring a lot of resources and a lot of opportunities for us to grow as an organization,” said Bartels. “We have an opportunity to put more capital into our buildings to give them a facelift.”

Kroehler YMCA’s oldest member, who has seen many fads come and go, says she is always ready to embrace something new.

“When changes take place, you have to change with them and we will,” said Evy. “That is what the Y is all about.”


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