The Montecito Family YMCA has been serving the local community since 1957. In 2006, through the generosity of our community, the Montecito Family YMCA was able to purchase the land on which the Y is currently located. This has secured the longevity of the Y and has provided the opportunity to improve facilities and services for its community.
Our Local Y History
In 1887, the same year that the first train came to Santa Barbara, the YMCA was formed in Santa Barbara and Ventura. Since then, Santa Barbara, Ventura and the YMCA have grown and changed. Originally headquartered on the second floor of a downtown office building, the Santa Barbara Y offered fellowship, music and exercise programs to the community. In 1910, construction began on the first official Y building in Santa Barbara, on the corner of Chapala and Carrillo Streets. The facility opened in 1912 and offered gymnasium classes, wrestling, boxing, handball, summer camps, hikes, athletics, swimming, and a variety of clubs and social services.
Since then, the Channel Islands YMCA has grown to include six health and fitness facilities, a Youth and Family Services branch, and more than 20 child care locations.
The YMCA movement in America has become the largest not-for-profit community-based organization in the nation, serving 20 million Americans. The nation’s more than 2,700 YMCAs unite men, women, and children of all ages, faiths, backgrounds, abilities and income levels. YMCAs are also at work abroad, serving more than 45 million people in countries across the world.
Volunteer-founded and volunteer-led, the YMCA was established in London, England, in 1844 by George Williams, a draper’s shop assistant, to give young men an alternative to life on the streets.
In 1851, Thomas Sullivan, a retired sea captain and lay missionary, started the first U.S. YMCA in Boston. From there, YMCAs spread rapidly across America. Some were started to serve specific groups such as railroad and factory workers, as well as African Americans, Native Americans and recent immigrants. After World War II, women and girls were admitted to full membership and participation.
In 1881 Dr. Luther Gulick revolutionized the American approach to health and fitness with the idea that man’s well-being depends on a unity of body, mind and spirit. The same year, Boston YMCA staffer Robert J. Roberts coined the term “body building” and developed exercise classes that anticipated today’s fitness workouts.
In 1885, Camp Dudley was founded, America’s first-known Y summer camp, at Orange Lake, N.Y. It aimed to help kids build skills and grow in self-reliance while making new friends. Over the years, the Y created more family and year-round camps and expanded the focus to include environmental stewardship, academics, arts and leadership.
There is no other organization quite like the Y. The Y is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities throughout the nation. Your local Ys seek to find gaps in community services and develop activities to fill those needs, thus strengthening communities across Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The Y has the presence and partnerships to both promise and deliver lasting personal and social change.
The Channel Islands YMCA is a charitable organization providing programs based upon Christian principles to men, women and children of all ages, races, religious beliefs and economic status to develop and enrich the spirit, mind and body.
Strengthening the community is our cause. A cause is defined as a principle or movement that, because of a deep commitment, one is prepared to defend or advocate. We have a deep commitment to the communities we are in and work tirelessly to make each a better place for all.
We’re a spirit, a movement and a cause. Our members join us because they believe in our cause and the values we stand for—caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.
The Y is dedicated to building healthy, confident, connected and secure children, adults, families and communities. Every day our impact is felt when an individual makes a healthy choice, when a mentor inspires a child, and when a community comes together for the common good.