In 1926 a group of local business leaders established a young men’s leadership club identified as Hi-Y. A structure was provided for the organization and was located on Main Street in Shawnee, Oklahoma on property now known as Boy Scout Park. The new organization was incorporated June 18, 1951, and was known by the community as “YMCA Teen Town”.
Later it became evident that the YMCA had become an integral part of the Shawnee and surrounding communities, and in response to community need, a new YMCA facility was erected in 1964 on Saratoga Street. As Shawnee grew and expanded, so too did the YMCA. In 1977, a gymnasium and two racquetball courts were added to accommodate the growing youth and adult programs. In 1980, the need for an aquatic center was answered with the construction of the Don Bodard Aquatic Center and the construction of additional racquetball courts.
Throughout the next five years, the YMCA continued to grow, pioneering more programs and services to meet the needs of an expanding population. In the early 1980’s, volunteers and staff recognized that it was difficult for the YMCA to provide all the program and services needed in the present facility. In 1985, construction began on a 24,000 square foot addition that included a state of the art gymnasium with elevated running track, an enlarged fitness center, and a teen center for the growing Tri-HI-Y club. With this construction project, the Shawnee Family YMCA became the 2nd largest YMCA in the state of Oklahoma.
In 2006, a major capital campaign began with a generous donation by the Troy and Dollie Smith family. With community involvement, the YMCA accomplished the goal of the “Embracing Tomorrow” campaign and raised over 9 million dollars. In July 2008, the doors opened to a new state of the art facility that includes a fitness area that provides circuit training, cardiovascular and free-weight equipment and a cardio-theater system. Also included in the new design are multi-purpose rooms, party rooms, babysitting, and licensed childcare area. The new Aquatic Center compliments the facility with a 25 yard, 5 lane lap swimming pool, a leisure pool with water slide, a lazy river, and a zero-level entry pool with “Daisy” the dragon water slide.
But it takes more than a building to make a YMCA. It takes people, people who care about one another and, more importantly, people who care about their families and their community. Additionally, it takes a community, who care about the children and who view the youth as the promise for tomorrow. The Greater Shawnee are and surrounding communities have always been such a community.