The Tallahassee YMCA was chartered August 15, 1952, spearheaded by a group of dedicated citizens who believed in the values promoted by the YMCA and wanted to make a positive difference in the community. Our Charter Board reads like a “Who’s Who” of 1950s Tallahassee, with many names cited on the Internet today.
CHARTER BOARD IN 1952
Tom Humphress, President Prominent Banker and charter member of the Capital City Kiwanis Club
Rev. Vernon Quigley, Vice President Helped found Holy Comforter Episcopal Church
Betty Atkinson, Secretary
George Klemming, Treasurer
Alice Chambers Contributed to FSU Library of Oral History
Senator Leroy Collins -Went on to become one of our finest Governors
William C. Kirk
Carolyn Krentzman Employed by FSU for 26 years, the Carolyn Krentzman Lounge at the Oglesby Student Union was named for her in 1996
Mrs. George E. Lewis, Sr. Married to founder of Lewis State Bank, she later became Vice President of the YMCA board
John Stead Owner/developer of Indianhead, he donated property to Leon County for Hartsfield Elementary School and Optimist Park.
Ed Steinmeyer, Jr Emory graduate and co-founder of Sigma Chi Fraternity at FSU
John Wigginton One of the first of three judges on the first District Court of Appeal
FreemanAshmore Kate Sullivan Elementary School Principal
From 1952 to 1966, no facilities were owned by the YMCA. Programs were offered to small groups of youth in the grade schools and the high schools. These school clubs were lead by either volunteer’s from Florida State University or part-time employees of the YMCA. During these developmental years, and without a facility to call their own, the YMCA Boards and staff developed a very strong Community Youth Program using loaned and rented facilities such as: schools, parks, churches and privately owned homes, pools and campgrounds. The board of Directors searched for years for a suitable location to build a full service facility, continuing to use loaned and rented facilities.
In 1960, Robert Chester “Chet” Francis brought his considerable skills, talents, and 32 years of YMCA experience to Tallahassee and became the Executive Director.
In 1967, the YMCA purchased 11 ½ acres East of the city on Apalachee Parkway. This site continues as our YMCA headquarters as well as the Parkway Family Branch, funded by memberships, program fees, and donations.
In the early 1970’s, the YMCA began a number of successful youth-based programs utilizing the vast grounds and facilities which included a swimming pool.
In 1973, Robert Chester “Chet” Francis retired and the baton of leadership passed to his son, Bill, who continued the Francis leadership tradition for the next 24 years.
In 1975 the YMCA purchased Camp Indian Springs as its overnight resident camp, conference center and family camping location. This 72 acre facility is located in Wakulla County close to Wakulla Springs.
In 1976 the idea of a teenage runaway center was conceived and a Federal Grant written by the Leon County Schools opened the YMCA Youth Home, “Someplace Else.” This facility and program continued to operate as the YMCA’s arm extended toward troubled youth, offering a safe, hassle free atmosphere, overnight shelter, food, clothing and counseling services.
In 1984, the local Rotary Clubs selected the Y to house and operate a Rotary sponsored teenage program center located at the Parkway Family Branch on Apalachee Parkway.
In the Fall of 1986, the outside racquetball court was enclosed and became a Nautilus Center with 13 machines.
In 1987, a wall was added to divide the large locker room at the Parkway Family Branch so that a separate Free Weight room could be developed.
A Capital Campaign was held over a three year period of 1989, 1990 and 1991 with a goal of $ 2.2 million. Through the sale of a 5 acre portion of land holdings facing Old St. Augustine Road, $ 1.4 million was raised to aid in overall improvements to Y facilities.
1991 The groundbreaking ceremony for the Parkway Family Fitness Center was held on December 19, 1991 at 10:30 am.
In 1991 a new dining hall was built at Camp Indian Springs and dedicated to the Knight Foundation. And, in 1992 three cabins were renovated: One in memory of Dr. Lomax Teal, a long time Y member and supporter, and the other two by the Tallahassee Rotary Club (one in memory of Francis Bridges).
The long awaited new Parkway Family Fitness Center and the new YMCA Youth Home, “Someplace Else,” became a reality with ground breaking in December 1991 and early 1992. The completions were celebrated in early 1993.
As of May 1, 1992, the YMCA owned Camp Indian Springs “free and clear.” Board President Julian Proctor looked for ways to promote off-season activities to increase revenue at the camp.
In October 1993, the vacated Parkway Family Fitness Center (old Health & Fitness Center) was renovated as the YMCA Children’s Playhouse, a Day Care Center. It continues to operate as a part of our ongoing Day Camp programs.
In 1993 the community Youth & Camping Board allocated surplus funds from 1992 to renovate two additional cabins at Camp Indian Springs, the old red building (past caretaker’s home) as an office and to partially renovate two of the three boathouses. An inner service road and a new more aesthetic entrance were also constructed. The Tallahassee Rotary Club donated funds to renovate two more cabins at Camp Indian Springs to be completed in early 1995.
In 1994, over 2,500 children were enrolled in swimming lessons as a new record for attendance.
In August 1995, a Strategic Planning Meeting was attended by Bill Moor, Bill Francis, Laurie Dozier, Wayne Edwards, Brad Cole, Terry Lewis, Chip Hartung, Pete Munroe, Kevin Carroll, Joe Paslay, Steve Peacock, Jim Barnard, Edna Mann, Pam White, Sydna Mathes, Tonya Durden and Nancy Dell Lawhorn. Major topics included:
- the need to expand to more branches and update the current facilities
- the goal of becoming financially self-sufficient
- the development of committed, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and well-compensated employees
- the possibility of a dome-covered pool to allow for year-round aquatics programs
- the promotion of an Endowment Fund
The 1995 Annual Support Campaign raised $51,522 and by year-end our operating capital was back in the black, as a ‘break-even’ organization.
In 1996 a search for a new President resulted in the selection of board member Brad Cole. A new pool deck is erected, and the Infant Program became a big success. As a service project, an FSU class cleaned up the back playground as a contribution of time and community service.
In 1997, new work-out equipment was purchased for the Parkway Family YMCA.
In 1998, the board developed a Personnel Policy for YMCA employees and approved a $250,000 capital improvement to build a stable and riding arena for the Equestrian program at Camp Indian Springs.
In December of 1999 the YMCA purchased a church facility at the corner of Kerry Forest Parkway and Velda Dairy Road, which later was released.
In 2000, the board considered various sites in NW Tallahassee for a YMCA Branch and completed the Equestrian Center at Camp Indian Springs.
In 2001 the YMCA purchased property at 3215 N. Monroe Street, and the Northwest YMCA Branch was born. This facility served our north residents for six years, until its sale to Wal-Mart in 2007.
Michael Hood became the President/CEO in 2002.
Peggy Conklin became President/CEO of Tallahassee YMCA in the fall of 2004.
In 2005 a third (3rd) Y Branch was opened in the newest residential/commercial development community known as SouthWood [A St. Joe project].
In 2007 a number of activities included: Opening of the new Northwest YMCA Branch; varied land sales; and a change in charter name to: Capital Region YMCA.
The Capital Region YMCA and Peggy Conklin are awarded the Leadership Achievement Award by United Partners for Human Services for overcoming great challenges and obstacles.
In 2010, the fifth (5th) President/CEO in our 58+ years of operation was named. Ken Franklin became President/CEO of Capital Region YMCA in June 2010, charged with three (3) Y Branch operations in Leon County together with Camp Indian Springs in Wakulla.
Our history continues as we strive for excellence to serve kids, families, and our community, for many years into the future.