Our History

One of the greatest strengths of the Ashtabula County YMCA, and the reason we've be serving our community since April 8, 1868, has been our ability to adapt to community needs.  The following is a timeline of important events in our local history:


Our organization got its start operating out of rented quarters primarily as a library, lecture and religious program after a couple of young men gathered at the old Presbyterian Church on Park Avenue to form the organization.


December 17th -19th, a district convention is held to revive the local branch.


By January, enough money is raised to provide a home for the Y on the second and third floors of the Ashtabula House above Riddell's Store at 46th Street and Main Ave.  The Social Library donated a 2000 volume library and billiard tables were installed.  The association boasted  the finest and best-equiped gymnasium in the area.


By the Fall, the Y's expanded program included educational and religious classes, a choral group, English for immigrants, bookkeeping, penmanship, men's Bible classes, and a class for church school teachers.


The Y develops an athletic field to add to its offerings.  It was during this time period that a branch was formed in the Harbor, located in the Lake Side House - a large brick hotel at the east end of Walnut Street.


A committee of 35 was formed to promote a YMCA building to keep the organization running on a permanent basis.


A fund campaign raised $80,000 to purchase the Park-Progress site and erect a new building which was dedicated in January 1911.  The four-story, 135 foot by 55 foot new building had a fully equipped gym and offered more floor space than any other building in the county.  Five hundred books from the Ohio State Library, 40 magazines, and 12 daily newspapers were provided in the reading room.  A drinking fountain, desk telephone, and toilet facilities were offered free to the public.  The dormitory housed 22 rooms and a 14 foot by 36 foot swimming pool had water circulated and renewed every three days.


In January, an open house featured a basketball game between the Y team and the Western Reserve Dental College.

In May, ladies were granted their request to use the gymnasium one night per week.


Friends of the YMCA purchased the adjoining Fisk property and a building there was used as a boys' division until the early 1940s.


The YWCA requested use of the physical facilities and the request was granted in the Fall.  This started the movement which eventually resulted in the construction of the new YMCA/YWCA at Five Points.


A capital funds drive under the direction of the Civic Development Corporation was begun in March raising $1,088,000 in pledges for a new building.


A meeting was held in January at which time the CDC Board voted to disperse the funds to erect a building on land purchased the year before from the county at Five Points.  On April 9th, the first shovel of earth was turned at a groundbreaking ceremony.


After 18 months of construction, the new building is dedicated on September 9, 1962.


Funded by the Civic Development Corporation, the Y renovated the boys' and the girls' locker rooms.  Also during this renovation, the old pool office was converted into a handicap accessible locker room featuring a shower with a bench and moveable shower head, handicap accessible toilet, and access to the pool with no steps in between.


In August, employees and family members of Millennium Inorganic Chemicals' Plant 2 gathered at the Y as part of the first Cristal Global Community Day.  About 25 volunteers spent the day making improvements to the facility and grounds, contributing more than $3000 in paint and materials to get the job done.  Improvements included removing brush around the building, painting guard rails, and refurbishing the outdoor basketball court.


A new CEO, Trevor Sprague, is hired in October.


A new program named Fitness Nutrition Coaching begins at the Ashtabula County YMCA.  This program allows members to recieve an unlimited number of one-on-one coaching appointments for free and helps people to reach their fitness and nutrition goals.  The Y Teen Leaders Club for 12-17 year olds is formed.  Phase I and Phase II of asbestos abatement are started thanks to $30,000 in grants from the Robert S. Morrison Foundation ($25,000) and the Ashtabula Foundation ($5000).  Two new child care sites open, one at Ridgeview Elementary School and one at Kingsville Elementary School.  New programs are added including Teen/Adult Swim Lessons, Martial Arts, Preschool Micro Sports, and AquaZumba.  The Ashtabula County YMCA and Lake County YMCA team up to provide free access to facilities in both associations for members.  A new special event is started at Walnut Beach, the Amateur 4 on 4 Volleyball Tourament, in partnership with the City of Ashtabula Parks and Recreation Department.  The YMCA Annual Dinner/Lottery Raffle has its largest attendance ever serving 550 people in September. The Y takes under its wing the Reach & Teach Summer Camp for children with autism. Ralph Varquet and Chad Johnson are recognized as Volunteers of the Year at the Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors.


Phase I and II of Asbestos Abatement are completed. Group exercise classes are added at Walnut Beach for the summer months.  The American Red Cross and the Y team to teach CPR/First Aid and Babysitter Course with a goal of 200 people in each of the two courses.  ZumbaGold for seniors is added to the group exercise schedule. In partnership with the Spirit of America, the Y offers a youth boating program.  Canoeing and Kayaking programs for all ages are added.  Ohio YMCAs join together to offer reciprocity, making membership at one Y good for access to all Ohio YMCAs.  Another record is set at the Annual Dinner/Lottery Raffle with attencance of 620 people.  The Y adds a partnership with University Hospitals to hold free monthly health lectures for seniors.  Swim team coaches Bob Ward, Vivian Platts, Yvonne Watson as well as Gary Trautman are recognized as Volunteers of the Year at the Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors. A total of 5932 people are served by the Y with 952 receiving financial assistance totaling more than $125,000. Including subsidies for youth, seniors, and military personel the Y subsidises a grand total of $191,683 to ensure access for all.  The Y provides $20,000 in free programs open to the community and $29,850 worth of space at no charge for outside clubs, nonprofits, and community service organizations.  Volunteers number 272 providing 4,122.5 hours valued at $85,954.


A new pool filtration system is installed thanks to the Robert S. Morrison Foundation.  Molded Fiber Glass donates new cardio equipment.  The Y extends lifeguard hours for Walnut Beach.  Work begins with the Buckeye Local School District on YMCA of the USA Signature Acheivement Gap programing after school.  In partnership with University Hospitals, the YMCA adds a new program to address hypertension and a diabetes support group.  The Civic Development Corporation approves funding to remodel the cardio center and purchase all new equipment over three years starting in 2016. YMCA boating programs are expanded and are held at Lakeshore Park, the Ashtabula River, and Pymatuning Lake. Work is started to replace all showers in the building at a cost of $3600 per group of six with additional work scheduled as funds are available. Tom Chubb is recognized as the Volunteer of the Year at the Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors. The Y hires a new position for Outreach Coordinator, holds a county-wide community needs assessment followed by a community leaders forum, forms a task force in Conneaut, Andover, and Orwell, and begins planning for outreach programs to begin in 2016.


Outreach services begin at the New Leaf Church in Conneaut.  With the help of Y members combined with the Herzog Family Foundation, the remainder of showers in the building are replaced at a final project cost of $22,200. The Board of Directors launches its first Annual Campaign to raise money for financial assistance and initiatives that address outreach programs, teen programs, programs for chronic disease, and achievement gap programming. As a result, the Y hires a Teen Program Coordinator to focus specifically on teen programs. With the help of the Ashtabula Foundation and Civic Development Corporation, the Y replaces its hot water holding tank at a cost of $24,000 after the original tank begins leaking and is unrepairable. The Board of Directors updates the Y's strategic plan to focus on supporting and strengthening the community. Boating programs are expanded to Conneaut Township Park and now include stand-up paddleboaring along with canoeing, kayaking, and small boat sailing. Through the support of the Civic Development Corporation, eight new treadmills are purchased for the cardio center at a cost of $46,000, security cameras are added at a cost of $5000, and a major repair to a water issue in the front of the building was addressed at a cost of $20,000.  New nature programs are added to encourage use and stewardship of Ashtabula County parks. By year-end, the Annual Campaign goal of $25,000 is surpased at more than $27,000 in contributions.


After 36 years of service, long-time Membership Director Cheryl Johnson retires and a new director, Ron Woodburn is hired. Thanks to the Civic Development Corporation, eight new eliptical machines are puchased for the cardio center at a cost of $25,800. With new cardio equipment in place, the Ashtabula County YMCA enters into a shared service agreement with the Cleveland Area YMCA association to offer the YMCA of the USA Diabetes Prevention Program. The 2017 Annual Campaign goal is set at $35,000 and comes up just short of the goal at $33,376 - but still the highest amount ever raised in an annual campaign. Family Fun Nights are added back onto the calendar and are well attended.  A new outreach project, called Mobile Y is run over the summer months with the purpose of taking the Y directly into underserved communities and succesfully provides programming for 64 children at 5 locations, all thanks to the Grand River Academy Youth Philanthropy Group and the Ashtabula Foundaion. Outreeach programming is also launched in Andover in cooperation with the Andover United Methodist Church and collaboration with the senior center and Country Neighbor.