Our History

YWCA McLean County Timeline

1908 – City charter granted and first YWCA McLean County location opens on West Monroe Street in Bloomington, where members begin their mission of empowerment. The cafeteria provides “healthy food” to area women. “Rest rooms” provide a respite from the “outside world” for early working women. Physical activity is encouraged. Babysitting services are offered. Girl Reserves founded as mentoring program for teens.

1921 — Demonstrating the purchasing power of women, the YWCA buys its first property at Jefferson Street, complete with a swimming pool and cafeteria.

1929 – Mary Lou Quinn of the Illinois Women’s Athletic Club of Chicago sets the unofficial world record for the 150-yd freestyle at the YWCA pool.

1929 – Problems of “unemployed girls” to be studied.  YWCA leaders are concerned about girls going to other cities looking for work without knowledge of the job market, or living conditions.

1930 – The YWCA joins several other organizations to establish the area’s first large community camp, East Bay Camp at Lake Bloomington.

1932 – The YWCA offers unemployed girls of the community free “emergency” programs in psychology and swimming.

1940 – YWCA offers square dancing and badminton, each for 35¢

1943 – YWCA continues its focus on women’s health by providing first-of-their-kind training classes for McLean County teachers on how to teach physical education to female students.

1942-1943 – The YWCA McLean County answers Uncle Sam in many ways. On Sundays the pool opens to men in military service who are on leave in Bloomington-Normal. Monthly military dances are hosted, convoying 100 soldiers from Chanute field. Meeting is sponsored on becoming a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) for area women.

1945 – Adult education classes range from typing to “the mysteries of atomic energy and its societal and scientific implications.”

Late 40s – YWCA members, including the only African-American board member, hold “sit ins” at area “whites only” restaurants, including the YWCA’s own tea room.

1950s –YWCA adds tumbling, baton twirling, tennis and reupholstering classes to its roster.

1951 – With divorce on the rise, the YWCA offers premarital courses covering the “physical, psychological, religious and economic aspects of marriage.”

1952 – The YWCA invites the Director of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations to discuss a race riot in Cicero that happened when an African-American moved his family into the all-white community.

1955 – Caribel Washington named first African American President of the YWCA McLean County.

1968 – Volunteers begin delivering “Mobile Meals” to Twin City aged and handicapped.

1970 – Planned Parenthood office opens a temporary office at YWCA.

1973 – The organization changes its name from Young Women’s Christian Association of Bloomington to Young Women’s Christian Association of McLean County.

1976 – The YWCA’s current Hershey Road location opens for business.

1970- 80s – Growth of Senior Services programs and fitness programs designed for people over 50. Programming includes RSVP, Home-based Services, advocacy and the establishment of senior centers at Miller Park and at Illinois State University’s Newman Center. Innovative fitness classes, like water aerobics and belly dancing, are added.

1987 – YWCA McLean County establishes the first before-and after-school program in the area at Bent Elementary School in District 87.

1990 – First local Women of Distinction recognition program.

1990 – YWCA facility on Hershey Road is expanded.

1990s – The YWCA adds Diversity Training and Study Circles to educate members of the McLean County community about racism.

1994 – Week Without Violence begins nationally.

1997 – Wheels to Work is established from a community collaboration looking at barriers faced by low-income residents to work. The YWCA begins providing transportation on Sundays, helping workers get to their jobs when public transportation isn’t available.

2002 – YWCA Hershey Road undergoes a second expansion.

2002 – Stepping Stones, providing 24-hour assistance to victims of sexual assault, takes its first call.

2002 – Local YWCA leaders work with other YWCAs on the Change Initiative, a grassroots movement to change the structure of the national YWCA organization.

2006 – The organization changes its name from Young Women’s Christian Association of McLean County to YWCA McLean County.

2007 – The YWCA adds Medivan service, providing transportation for local residents to and from non-emergency medical appointments.

2008 – The YWCA McLean County celebrates its 100th anniversary.

2009 – Becky Hines named YWCA Great Lakes Alliance Region Executive Director. Jane Chamberlain named CEO/president.

2011 – Smart Sprouts Mentoring program begins. Girls Be U program begins. Health and Fitness Closes.

2012 – 23rd Women of Distinction Awards program has largest attendance ever (737). Jane Chamberlain resigns as CEO/president. Ruth Ann Fraker named Interim CEO/president.

2013 – D. Dontae Latson was named the first male President & CEO of YWCA McLean County.

2013 – YWCA McLean County introduces new name for Child Care programming…Young Wonders: Early Learning & Youth Development

2014 – YWCA acquires Money Management program.