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Happy Birthday, Hilltop YMCA!
The YMCA on Valleyview Drive opened its doors 50 years ago.
On Nov. 21, the Hilltop YMCA will be celebrating a milestone of 62 years of community outreach and service, with a special Homecoming Celebration.
“What we’re doing is inviting back people that have been affiliated with our YMCA over the last 50 years, either through their membership, as a volunteer, or as a staff person,” Executive Director Paul Westenheffer said.
Planning for the celebration began about seven months ago, and originally was aimed towards celebrating the 50 years since the Valleyview branch opened in 1960.
However, after going through their archives, they quickly realized they could not properly celebrate their history without bringing it all together.
“We’ve actually been a presence on the Westside, at various facilities, for 62 years. So, we had three other locations that preceded our current address,” Westenheffer said.
The first programs sponsored by the Hilltop YMCA were initiated in 1948, from their first location based out of a house across the street from West Broad Elementary School.
Over the past couple of months the YMCA has hosted various events cumulating to this special Homecoming Celebration, including the Sept. 25 alumni swim meet, youth art show, and a community open house.
Furthermore, a permanent display will be added to the Hilltop YMCA’s building that will showcase the historical archives of the past 62 years.
“It will be unveiled, actually, at our Nov. 21 homecoming event,” Westenheffer said.
Additionally, pictures and memorabilia that could not be fit into the permanent display will be showcased under Plexiglas throughout the venue.
Over the past 50 years, the venue has undergone many renovations and changes, which these items of memorabilia will allow visitors to journey through.
“For various rooms in the building, the pool and other spaces like that, will have little displays that will show you pictures of how it looked 20-40 years ago, and of course you can see how it looks today,” Westenheffer said.
According to Westenheffer, they are happy to be a part of a neighborhood that is so supporting and shows community pride. They hope that by looking through the archives and enjoying the new permanent display, the community will see what growth can happen when people come together, and realize the potential for even further growth in the future.
“It’s been a good exercise for us,” Westenheffer said, “…as you go back through the archives and you learn the history of our Y, you realize the effort that it took for volunteers and staff to come together and build a YMCA like this, and to make sure it is a presence for many years – it’s invigorating, because you realize we’ve had that kind of support over all this time.”
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