The Young Men’s Christian Association, better known as the YMCA, is indisputably one of the most prestigious nonprofit organizations to date in American history. With locations found in upward of 10,000 neighborhoods ranging across the nation, it is nearly impossible to miss this large organization.
Today, the YMCA is often referred to as a “community-centered” organization that brings people together connecting individuals of all ages and backgrounds. This nonprofit places a major emphasis on community enhancement and the idea of giving equal opportunities for people to learn, grow, and thrive as active members of a society. Some of the YMCA’s central focuses are; promoting youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Although, most importantly, it serves as an institution for diverse communities to come together with the intentions of engaging in social interactions inside of a healthy and public atmosphere.
Initially, during the emergence of the YMCA, in the mid 1800’s, this organization served as an outlet for young men to gather and escape the harsh realities and hazards produced by daily life on the streets. At this particular time the organization provided an environment for young men to come together to socialize, discuss commonalities and engage in religious practices such as Bible study and prayer. This “refuge” played a critical role in how men established and developed diverse interpersonal relationships.
Over the YMCA’S long-lived history, the ideals and aspirations of the organization have developed and undergone significant changes. Although the primary influence is to create personal and social success is still clearly evident, enhancing interpersonal communication is a newly found goal of the Young Men’s Christian Association.
Thinking about the success of this organization can be attributed to many things. While interpersonal communication is a major factor, we urge you to also consider the social penetration theory. This theory explains that as relationships develop, interpersonal communication shifts from relatively shallow conversations to deeper and more intimate ones.
So how does this play a role in the success of the YMCA as a major organization? As they continue to create programs such as group exercise classes, bible studies, after school child care opportunities, they also work to increase their participation within the organization. More and more people join and without realizing it, they begin to contribute to and participate in the social penetration theory and the success of the YMCA. What starts as coincidental run-ins and superficial exchanges of conversation soon transforms into meaningful dialogue and a true sense of community.
As the YCMA continues to expand their organization through the creation of more locations and the implementation of programs and opportunities, they will also increase their ability to stay a top non-profit organization in America today. So, next time you walk into the YMCA to go to a workout class, dance lesson, or bible study remember what you are contributing too – the success of a great organization.
Visit these links to learn more about The YMCA and how to become involved in your community:
-Alex Corrigan, Kaitlin Batson, Parker Farfour, Caitlin Ford