The Why Behind the Y.
1844 YMCA is Founded in London
In 1844, industrialized London was a place of despair. For the young men who migrated to the city, it offered a bleak future of tenement housing, low wages, drinking, and immorality. Troubled by what he saw, 22-year old George Williams rallied 11 friends to organize the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men.
1851 YMCA Sails to America
Inspired by stories of the Y in England, 30-year-old sea captain and missionary Thomas Valentine Sullivan and six colleagues founded the first U.S. YMCA. Located at the Old South Church in Boston, it was a home away from home for young sailors.
1869 YMCA of Honolulu Established
In the late 1800s, Honolulu was a rowdy seaport buzzing with taverns, brothels and gambling houses. Three young men—Peter Cushman Jones, Sanford B. Dole, and Thomas Rain Walker—saw the need for wholesome activities for sailors and transient men. They recruited seven friends, and on Friday, April 30, 1869, they approved a constitution for the first YMCA in Hawai‘i. Their aim: the "religious, moral, and social improvement of ourselves and others."
By the second YMCA Honolulu meeting, membership had grown to 21. At their third meeting, they voted to move into the Reading Room at the Sailors’ Home. And on September 24, 1869, YMCA Honolulu held its first public meeting.