The history of our YMCA is quite unique. Historically, it is one of the oldest YMCA’s in Georgia and is greatly respected for its programs and services to the community.
Our YMCA was founded and chartered in Waycross, Georgia in 1896. The inaugural years the Y-membership operated their business in a hotel on Haines Avenue in Waycross before the first YMCA building was constructed and opened its doors. The original YMCA Building was built in 1908 on Pendleton Street.
The ACL Railroad funded the construction of the second YMCA building in 1911. The new Railroad YMCA included 50-boarding rooms that housed the working railroad men. During the period of 1911 to 1916, the YMCA operated two separate buildings. Each building had distinctly different programming. The Pendleton Y was sold to the City of Waycross in 1916, and it was converted to City Hall, as it remains yet today.
The increasing popularity with the YMCA Services led to a demand on space, and by the late 1960’s, plans to develop a Family YMCA building was underway. The Family YMCA was constructed and opened on Plant Avenue in 1968. By 1971, all the YMCA’s Family programming moved to the new building, and the YMCA purchased the Ware Hotel Building to house their boarding operation.
By moving the Railroad YMCA to the Ware facility it allowed the railroad to house more men, (75 per day), plus 25-30 senior adults lived there. Civic clubs, such as the Rotary, Kiwanis, B&PW, Exchange, PILOT, and the Lions all met at the Ware YMCA. Food service was open 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The YMCA operated the facility until 1987.
Today the Waycross YMCA serves the Southeast Georgia community from the Plant Ave facility. The Family YMCA is named after Ben and Anne Childers who served the Waycross YMCA from 1961-1992 as loyal YMCA employees. The long-standing success of the YMCA, can best be contributed to the commitment from the Ben and Anne Childers and the dedication of many community members and business leaders. The railroad industry has proven to be the leader in promoting the Y to their employees and by raising funds for community service programs and Y-facilities.
Current Facility and Services
Over 50,000 square ft. of building space on nearly 18-acres. The facilities include: Indoor Aquatic Center, Indoor Basketball Court, Indoor Racquetball, Outdoor Sport Court, Steam Room(s), Men’s Sauna room, Indoor and Outdoor playgrounds. Our services include; Youth Sports, Preschool, After School Childcare, Swimming Lessons, Adult Coed Sports, Music Instruction, Summer Childcare and a Full Service Fitness Center.
The YMCA of Waycross is open to everyone who strives to better themselves, regardless of their age, race or income status. We service the counties of Ware, Pierce, Clinch, Brantley, Charlton, and Bacon. Currently, we have close to 7,000 members and serve 2,700 families.