A racquetball club was probably the forerunner of the present YMCA. Dr. Mike Briggs and others got together and built a racquetball court in the old Landmark Building in 1976 or early 1977. From there the group began to talk about the need for recreation for people of all ages in Mexico, especially youth. Nancy Rahmeyer, a former Mexico resident, had a vision that went far beyond what others had in mind. She wanted Mexico to have a YMCA. Nancy and Mike met with a core group of people in September of 1977. Members of this group were Dr. Leonard Davis, Warner Williams, John Cline, Dr. Michael Briggs, Brad Brett, Bucky Green, Max Thompson, Alan Atkins, Nancy and Dwight Rahmeyer. Even then they envisioned a $1 million Y family building complete with swimming and physical fitness facilities.
In June of 1978, a charter was received for a YMCA. In late 1978, Steve Ira was hired as the first director and the old Hiway R-3 School on Highway 15 was leased. In the first year there were 345 memberships representing 1,000 people. Programs were held in the Y building and other locations. Missouri Military Academy allowed the use of its swimming pool. With a lot of luck, some personal money kicked in by board members, and on-going fundraisers, the YMCA kept going. There was a group called the Y Players that did play productions to raise funds, and the YMCA started a bingo night that continued for twenty years. Later, the YMCA moved to a new location in downtown Mexico at 107 E. Monroe Street. It soon became apparent that the organization needed a building of its own. In 1980 the Board of Directors approved plans for a capital drive to start in early 1981. Charlie Rocker became the Executive Director and William S. Lowe, president and CEO of A.P. Green Industries, Inc, headed the drive. The goal was $850,000.
In 1982, David Raboin became the director of the YMCA
In 1984, with much ceremony, the new building opened with Fred Leonard as the director and Kitty Seigfreid, Chairman of the Board. Family membership cost $150 for the year. In 1994, Brian Mitchell became the Executive Director, and in 1996, Sherry Medley assumed those duties. Today the YMCA has 1570 membership units, representing over 4011 people. Programs include youth basketball, soccer, flag football, kick ball, whiffle T-ball, martial arts, volleyball, adult basketball, swim team, aerobic classes, yoga, Pilates, Zumba, aquatic classes, swimming lessons, after school child care, and preschool. Approximately 8-10% of the participants receive scholarships.
In 1979, a family membership cost $55 and the annual budget at that time was $75,000. Today a family membership costs $492 and the annual budget is approximately $800,000. In 1999, bingo was dropped as the major fundraiser and an Annual Support Drive was initiated with Steve Hagan as the chairman. The successful drive raised $45,000, well beyond the $25,000 goal. In the second year Nancy Ekern served as chairperson and the drive raised over $50,000. 2009 marked the 10th year of the Annual Support Drive and is the sole fundraiser for the Y. The YMCA also receives funds from United Way.
In 2002 the YMCA kicked off a capital campaign to raise $1.75 million to expand and renovate the Y. Staff and volunteers surpassed that goal and in November of 2004, the new Wellness Center with new equipment and a walking track opened for members. Locker rooms were renovated, a new lobby and a new teen/activity room was created. The pool was also renovated, with new walls and roof, new hot tub and sauna. All renovation was completed at the end of summer 2005.
In November of 2006 the YMCA received notification of a $750,000 gift from the estate of William Aaron Haas, the first gift of its kind. In 2007, the YMCA was notified that they were recipients of an annual percent of the estate of Ralph Roth. The first disbursement in 2008 was $16,666.
In October, 2008 the YMCA held its first Heritage Club meeting and the following people were inducted as charter members: Charles Cockelreas, Mary and Jack Creason, Nancy and H. Peter Ekern, M.D., Cheri and Dan Erdel, Liz and Carl Fuemmeler, William A. Haas, Becky and John C. Hagan III, M.D., Steve Hagan, Theresa and Steve Hendrix, Carolyn and Steve Hobbs, George Irion, Sherry and Jim Medley, Nancy and Bruce Oliver, Jim Ross, Ralph Roth, Kitty and Jerry Seigfreid, Mary and Paul Seigfreid.
In May of 2008, the Board of Directors unanimously approved a facility expansion plan with an approximate budget of $4 million. This wonderful community came together and $4.4 million was raised for the building expansion. In May of 2013, the new YMCA was opened and included 2 full size basketball courts, 2 new fitness studios, new child watch room, Y cafe, walking/running track, a multi-sport activity center, and much more.
History will continue to be made as the future Boards and staff look for ways to meet the needs of the community and maintain the YMCA mission.