Around the globe, the YWCA operates in 125 countries reaching 25 million women and girls through its work in 22,000 communities. It is the oldest and largest multicultural women’s organization in the world.
In the United States, the YWCA, founded in 1855, has 225 local associations that serve 2 million members. Women come to the YWCA for many reasons; for health and fitness, for childhood education, for leadership seminars, for domestic abuse services, for job training, for career counseling, for aquatics, for housing, for summer camp, for after school activities, for birthday parties, for community-wide racial justice events, and for much more.
Since its beginnings, the YWCA has been a major force in this country’s struggles for freedom, justice and equality.
In 1919, the former Greenwich Hospital building on Millbank Avenue became the home of YWCA Greenwich after six women met at the home of Mrs. Edgar C. Lockwood and went forward to raise $50,000 in six weeks. The articles of incorporation were signed at Greenwich High School.
The facility then was primarily a residence for 24 women and a housemother, and continued to house women until the late 1960s. (One new resident was born in the building when it was a hospital and married in the same room after it became the YWCA.) Early programs included Business & Industrial Girls Club, Sewing Class, Cooking Class and Social Education. In addition, since men were away fighting in World War I, courses were offered in auto mechanics and electrical repair. And the varied activities helped raise membership to over 500.
As members, programs and services continued to grow through the years, the 1961 YWCA Greenwich Board began to search for a new location and found it on East Putnam Avenue. A successful capital gifts campaign was undertaken and a 3-level building on 6.5 campus like acreage opened in 1970.
The intervening years saw the YWCA play a significant role in the lives of tens of thousands Greenwich families, helping shape the community as we know it today, and continuing to meet new challenges. In 1981 the YWCA was licensed by the State of Connecticut as the sole provider of domestic abuse services in Greenwich, and to this day we continue to answer thousands of hotline calls annually and provide a wide range of free, 24/7 services to victims.
Now, YWCA Greenwich offers over 125 age specific programs, events and services in a continually updated facility that features a fully equipped fitness center, pool, gymnasium, childhood education center, dance and yoga studio, tennis courts, domestic abuse center, art gallery, café, Water Playground, Kompan structures playground, sand play area, meeting rooms and staff offices.
As we approach our 100th anniversary, we sincerely thank an active and dedicated Board of Directors…the important advocates on our Leadership Council…our happy and loyal members…and a most generous group of annual contributors. It is with their help that we will continue to be one of the most prized resources for families in the Greenwich community for another 100 years and beyond.