10/09/2008 - 22:00

100 up for YMCA in Perth

10/09/2008 - 22:00

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Mention the YMCA to many people and they'll think of the 1979 hit song by the Village People, which at face value extols the virtues of the Young Men's Christian Association.

Mention the YMCA to many people and they'll think of the 1979 hit song by the Village People, which at face value extols the virtues of the Young Men's Christian Association.

Ron Mell, Western Australia's YMCA chief executive, said while that song was written during the association's heyday, the virtues and values of the YMCA have grown with the times.

"As life changed and community needs changed, people didn't have the time to do the volunteer work like they used to," he said.

"Now, we operate with a business model that's applied to community service, which is driven by professional paid staff, of which we have about 900 in Western Australia.

"And now, we're open to anybody which ever colour, class or creed and religion they may belong."

Mr Mell said the YMCA has refined its focus in the 100 years it has operated in WA, including childcare and children's services among its offering, as well as a growing partnership program with the state's private and public sectors.

The most inspiring of these, he said, was with BHP Billiton, which in conjunction with the YMCA was building a childcare centre in Newman, which will provide a service for BHP Billiton employees and the wider community.

Perth YMCA Perth president Lorna Long said the association's objectives and corporate structure continued to evolve.

"More than ever, the Perth YMCA continues to reach out to the communities, families and children of WA and provide them with a wide and diverse range of programs that strengthen their capacity to grow in body, mind and spirit," she said.

A man named George Williams and 11 of his friends founded the first YMCA in London in 1840.

In just over a decade the association branched out across the world, with the first Australian branch opening in Adelaide in 1851. Fifty seven years later, Western Australia had a YMCA firmly established.

The YMCA Perth Group is comprised of two organisations - YMCA of Perth Inc. and YMCA of Perth Youth & Community Services Inc.

Under current taxation laws, YMCA of Perth is defined as a charity and carries out a range of activities directed at building communities, while the second organisation is described as a benevolent institution and provides programs for disadvantaged people.

Combined, the YMCA now offers accommodation, children's services, recreation facility management and community based programs, whereas in the 1960s and 1970s in particular, programs were very much recreation centric.

In the past few years the YMCA of Perth has recorded substantial growth, investing its resources to provide further infrastructure to support the growth.

Treasurer Peter Sullivan said that, despite the investment, the group still recorded a very healthy surplus after another substantial contribution to the benevolent activities of the group.

The YMCA of Perth group achieved a combined operating surplus of more than $750,000 this past financial year, as a result of increased activity and partnership programs, particularly with BHP Billiton.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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