We all know the YMCA for the song by The Village People. When I was a kid, I knew the YMCA as the place where I took swimming lessons, progressing from a guppy to a dolphin.
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the YMCA, and YWCA, for all that they do. And I mean all of it. To get an idea, let’s look at the actual lyrics to that Village People song (I’ve gotten rid of some of the more repetitive parts of the lyrics):
Young man, there’s no need to feel down.
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, young man, ’cause you’re in a new town
There’s no need to be unhappy.
Young man, there’s a place you can go.
I said, young man, when you’re short on your dough.
You can stay there, and I’m sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel…
Young man, are you listening to me?
I said, young man, what do you want to be?
I said, young man, you can make real your dreams.
But you got to know this one thing!
No man does it all by himself.
I said, young man, put your pride on the shelf,
And just go there, to the Y.M.C.A.
I’m sure they can help you today.
You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel …
Young man, I was once in your shoes.
I said, I was down and out with the blues.
I felt no man cared if I were alive.
I felt the whole world was so jive …
That’s when someone came up to me,
And said, young man, take a walk up the street.
There’s a place there called the Y.M.C.A.
They can start you back on your way.
Young man, young man, are you listening to me?
Young man, young man, what do you wanna be?
So pretty much everyone mumbles through the important parts of that song while they scream “YMCA!” and jump up and down making their body into letters like a freaking cheerleader.
But the important parts of the song are pretty important. The YMCA/YWCA has a lot of programs to help people. In a lot of different ways. If you know about these programs, they can help you get to a point where you can help yourself. But you have to know about them.
For Youth Development.
For Healthy Living.
For Social Responsibility.
Who couldn’t get behind and organization with a motto like that? To give you an idea of what the YMCA offers, here are some of the programs they’re currently offering in Pittsburgh. They’re a nationwide organization, though, so try to find your local branch through the national website.
- connecting youth with service opportunities that match their interests
- tutoring and mentoring programs
- Black Achievers- a program helping African American youth set high educational standards, and helping them get there
- homeschool enrichment programs
- leader’s club for youth
- all kind of sports programs for everyone from the youngest to the oldest on an affordable budget
- programs that work with the community to influence local politics (advocacy)
- family support services
- camps for kids with special needs
- job training
- drug and alcohol counseling
- food pantries
- housing for single residents
- I haven’t even scratched the surface
They have some seriously great motto writers. The YWCA is amazing, too. They also offer housing, but theirs is for single women, women with children, or low-income families. The main causes in these housing efforts are to help those who are homeless or those who suffer from drug/alcohol addiction. They also have an array of programs in our area:
- initiatives for teenage girls to get involved with STEM topics at a young age
- free tax preparation through VITA
- health care navigators
- assistance applying for free childcare for working mothers, along with a myriad of other programs
- career counseling
- free legal advice and representation
- help getting low-cost or free women’s health services (think annual checkups of all kinds)
- free exercise classes for women and families
- advocacy and education for racial issues, including numerous opportunities for recognition for those working against racism
- again, I’m just scratching the surface
So whether you’re looking to get your kids into an affordable swim class, or need help getting back on your feet, the Y is a great organization to be a part of. Our communities are important. Working to make them better through an organization like the Y is a great way to spend your time and energy that will pay dividends throughout your community. And knowing that they are there to help may be the first step in improving your life, from the most dire of situations to those just needing a little help to get their finances back on track.
Much love to Sheila from The Frugal Exerciser for inspiring this post. Have something you want to see covered on Femme Frugality? Shoot me an email.
Good stuff. Back in my hometown, the YMCA supported all kinds of leagues and activities for my children and even for me when I was a kid. Now, since I’ve moved, our base helps out and supports the YWCA here in Oklahoma. They really are great organizations. And thanks for actually making me think about the lyrics to the song…lol…pretty interesting.
I think that’s what they’re best known for is their kids sports! Glad they have made such a positive impact on you. And the song lyrics are surprising when you sit to look at them!
Hooray for the Y. Great organization that I think some people get down on for being Christian.
In my opinion if you’re going to do Christianity, from what I’ve seen they do it right. Charity and that pure love they always talk about with no proselytizing (at least from my experience.)
What a great idea to highlight these lyrics – there’s often so much more meaning in songs when you stop and actually listen to the lyrics, and this is an awesome example of that. Definitely puts the meaning of YMCA in a much more important perspective – thanks Femme Frugality!
Like Bohemian Rhapsody? I had no idea that was about AIDS until I was in my 20s.
I agree that the YMCA has changed a lot. In New Jersey there are some YMCA’s that look and feel like a country club. I have never really listened to the words to the song…..not bad.
Whoa. I’ve never seen one that looks like a country club!
In my old town the Y was torn down to create a parking lot for a new campus for the local community college. I was really bummed because I actually attended some parenting classes there but the community didn’t see it as something to fight for. Fast forward to where I live now the Y is deeply rooted in the community and a great asset to all of us. If someone tried to tear it down I’m sure there would be riots in the street, haha. I volunteer there to coach my son’s basketball team and utilize any other resource they offer like childcare and wellness programs. It truly is a great organization overall.
I’ve never used a YMCA as the towns I’ve lived in haven’t had them, but they seem to be great places for families on a budget. 🙂
Thanks for the shout out Femme. I know and I didn’t know that the YMCA does that many things. However, as far as fitness is concerned, it is a great place if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a health club membership. I learned how to swim by taking classes at the YMCA when I was a child and that goes for all of my siblings. The YMCA song has a special message and I don’t know if anyone has paid attention to the words, I know I hadn’t. Thanks for the enlightening post.
I couldn’t read those lyrics apart from the tempo of the song – rhythm and pauses included : ) I love it that you’re featuring an organization that really does help people to meet social needs – both for adults and kids – that can be so expensive. This is the kind of service that helps people get by, get out of debt, and save. We’ve got the Y up here in Canada too. It’s where I learned to swim as a kid.
You know I never even really stopped to consider the lyrics of that song! What a great organization the YMCA is. For me it was something that brought me to the program that made my high school career – Youth in Government. It’s featured through the YMCA and YIG helped me to develop a love of government AND pulled me out of my shell. So in a way the YMCA is a big reason why I am who I am today.
I took my son to the Y for swimming courses when he was a guppy. I had no idea the Y did all of those other things. I thought everything was “pay”, like the swimming lessons. This was such an informative post. Nice going Ms. Femme! 🙂
I have fond memories of our YMCA since it’s where my high school swim team would meet to practice, but I had no idea they did all this other stuff. I knew they had rooms you could rent out too because one of my Girl Scout troops met there as well.
The Y is pretty great. I wish more of them still had single-room housing available (when New York shut down its housing program years ago I knew several senior citizens who’d lived there for decades who suddenly had no place to stay) but still. I’ve also lived in a few towns where they offered emergency shelter on winter nights — basically just showers and mats on the floor of the gym, but better than staying outside on a night when it’s below freezing!
The ymca is a great place for all those activities. The help they give the communities is vital. I’ve never been to ours because it’s a little high to join but I found out they have day rates by going to their site so that makes a difference for us. We will go and have a great time for a day or two to help make the winter pass quickly. Thanks for the info!
I love the YMCA! I have a great deal on the gym itself ($20 for two adults), which means I can use the gym, pool, and workout classes all for only $20 a month! That’s worth it to me. I live in a climate where 9 months out of the year is terrible (aka die if you try to workout outside), so $20 a month is worth it to me… even if I don’t use the facilities much in the winter (the 3 months out of the year you don’t die).
That’s awesome that your branches of the YMCA cover so much! At present, the YMCAs nearest to me cost a lot of money to join – usually a large joining fee and then a monthly fee that is more than most other gyms near me! I’d love to use our YMCAs more frequently – pool, classes, etc. – but other workout facilities are much more affordable!