EAST BRUNSWICK–Committing to helping local children and families for more than a century, the Raritan Valley YMCA (RVY) will celebrate its 150th anniversary.
A celebration will be held on Jan. 25 at the State Theatre, 15 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick. A special cocktail reception will be held prior to the performance of “The Illusionists,” a family-friendly production featuring magic and music.
Three special guests will be honored for their service and dedication to RVY’s mission: Catherine Diem, Scott Thompson and Preeti Srivastava.
“Additionally, in celebration of the 150th anniversary, a trip down memory lane is being created. Many people may recall the YMCA Indian Guide program back in the late ’50s early ’60s. Memorabilia from that time will be on display with the [President Abraham] Lincoln letter, scrapbooks, and old photos, as well as current video and pictures,” said Karen Scott, RVY’s facility member and 150th Anniversary Committee member.
According to Gina Stravic, RVY executive director, not much is known about the very early days of the RVY.
“Founded in New Brunswick in 1867, as part of Rutgers University, the RVY has stayed current for all of those 150 years. While buildings, programs and people change, our purpose remains the same. Our volunteer and staff partners work everyday to the needs of the community with a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, impacting lives and growing strong communities.
“The original charter was in New Brunswick through Rutgers. In fact, the RVY has a letter signed by Abraham Lincoln which asked the RVY to house and feed soldiers. We think that there was a RVY on Church Street for some period of time. Many original locals today remember our YMCA as the New Brunswick RVY on Livingston Avenue,” she said.
After the RVY moved to 144 Tices Lane in East Brunswick, the Livingston Avenue building at some point became the George Street Playhouse. The playhouse was demolished earlier this fall to make room for a new theater arts center with Rutgers, DEVCO and the City of New Brunswick, according to Stravic.
“With a committed staff and volunteer force, the YMCA has served and cared for thousands of individuals throughout the 150 years in our service territories of New Brunswick, East Brunswick, North Brunswick, South River, South Brunswick, Milltown, Helmetta, Highland Park, Spotswood, Dunellen, Middlesex, Jamesburg, Monroe [and] Piscataway,” Stravic said.
Additionally, the RVY has many community partners, working with local governments, coalitions, and other social service agencies to provide collaborative programs and initiatives. Current projects include youth obesity prevention, senior wellness, water safety awareness, and child safety, according to Stravic.
“It’s a family-friendly [YMCA] and members are always greeted by a smiling face. Unlike many of the local fitness centers in the area, the RVY Fitness Center is never ‘too crowded for comfort’ and offers a full range of aerobic and weight equipment, as well as yoga, spinning and other fitness classes,” Rose said.
“The Child Care Center is clean and bright and has a dedicated and loving staff, who provide an outstanding level of care. The aquatics programs are second-to-none in the area, and thousands of children, as well as adults, in the area have learned to swim by taking lessons at RVY. The RVY Riptide Swim Team is a first-class competitive program, producing some of Middlesex County’s finest swimmers,” Priscilla Rose said.
The community can support RVY by joining, donating, volunteering or participating in programs and services, according to Rose.
“Donating directly to the Y supports the Y’s scholarship fund which sends children to camp, teaches youngsters to swim, and subsidizes program and membership fees for those with financial needs. You can also donate to the Y each and every time that you order on Amazon … by choosing the Raritan Valley YMCA as your favorite charity [through Amazon Smile].
“Over a thousand hours of tracked volunteer time also support the RVY. Individuals, groups, interns and students provide assistance to maintenance projects, program and events. The RVY’s Board of Directors are volunteer leaders who assure the future of the RVY through policy making, fundraising and planning efforts,” Rose said.
For more information about the Y, or for tickets to the anniversary celebration, visit www.raritanvalleyymca.org/index.php.
Contact Vashti Harris at email@example.com.