Countdown to 100: YMCA nears centennial milestone in Columbus

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – The countdown to a century begins. The Frank P. Philips YMCA has been serving Columbus for nearly 100 years.

The Christian-based non-profit organization planted its roots in 1924 and has since been a place many people call home. Our Kealy Shields found out more about the Y’s history and how they are counting down the days to turn triple digits.

For many, it was the first place they took a swim lesson, joined a basketball league, and maybe even worked out. For nearly a century, the Columbus YMCA has been an organization that strives to serve.

“In April of 1924, a group of businessmen got together and formed the YMCA here in Columbus. And they elected their first board of directors at that meeting. The president elected was Frank P. Philips, hence the name, The Frank P. Philips YMCA. And Mr. Philips was very instrumental in bringing the Y to Columbus,” said YMCA Executive Director Jimmy Woodruff.

The history of the Y covers the walls of the building. Woodruff has been the executive director for four years.

While he may still be new in his career, he said the principles of the Christian-based organization have continued to impact more people than they know.

“When you just think of a hundred years and the number of people that have been influenced by the YMCA in a lot of different ways. It could be a swim lesson, it could be basketball, or it could just be a member. You know it’s really mind-boggling when you think of the number of people who have been plugged into the YMCA community for 100 years. It’s really something special,” said Woodruff.

Members like Kemo Lewis said the Y is a place he calls home.

“I basically grew up here. I always came in here and played and just met people and like just got close to them. They are like family. It’s just like home to me,” said Lewis.

New member Garrett Weathers said he found it to be a place he wanted to be a part of.

” I chose the Y because the people up here are all so nice. You come into the gym. Heck, I came into the gym yesterday and he was in here putting up some shots and I was like heck yeah do. You don’t have to know everybody but you can make friends while you are up here,” said Weathers.

And while the Y is getting ready to blow out its next candle, the organization is ready to see what the next century holds.

“We always want to look for a need. There are so many needs in the community and we can’t fill every need. But we can fill many of them. So, when we identify an area it can really help in, then we go after that and try to make it work,” said Woodruff.

The YMCA will be hosting its 100th birthday party on April 27.

For 24/7 news and updates, follow us on Facebook and X

Categories: Featured, Local News