The Early 1900’s
The stimulas for organizing a YWCA in Quincy, Illinois came from students attending college at Normal, Illinois where the first student YWCA was organized. On January 19, 1905 Miss Harriet Broad, the state secretary, came to discuss the matter. During the meeting, it was decided “the time is now,” and on February 9, 1905 the organization began. The first rooms were secured and a board of directors elected. The new YWCA Quincy originally offered Bible classes, vesper services, and a ‘shirtwaist’ class. We quickly grew and expanded into a new larger building at 107 North 4th Street. The YWCA later offered a class in the use of the ballot that offered women in Quincy an opportunity to exert new found freedoms as voting citizens and provided information on city organizations and county government.
In October of 1920, the Board had an evening dinner meeting with the Trusteees to discuss the advisability of a drive for a new building in the spring. The outcome was favorable. The building on North 4th Street was sold and the YWCA rented a building at 224 North 8th Street. The first radio program by the YWCA was also given during this time. Mrs. James Netherly and Mrs. Laura Bitter gave solos and Miss Mossman gave an oral presentation. It was the beginning of a monthly program.
The Cheerful Home Board offered to sell its property at 421 Jersey Street to the YWCA in July of 1932. The YWCA bought the building for $11,000, but it was a difficult time financially for the YWCA and other service organizations. During the late 1930’s, 12 to 14 girls lived in the upper rooms of the north wing at 421 Jersey.
In April of 1945 the building was extensively damaged by a tornado. The Advisory Committee authorized the use of insurance money to repair the building until funds were available for a new building.
In 1952, both the Board and the Advisory Committee approved a building campaign to raise $85,000 for remodeling. By June, $65,563 had been raised. A dedication of the renovated building was held in January 1953. In 1956 the Senior Citizens Club organized through the YWCA efforts, and in 1958 the International Club for war brides was organized to help women new to the United States make friends.
This was a time for growth for the YWCA Quincy. A day program for emotionally disturbed persons needing more than out-patient therapy was provided by the Adams County Mental Health Association, while the YWCA provided space and volunteers for the needed service. Nursery School for children was begun. Nursery care was also available during the time mothers were involved in YWCA program activities. The 1st Arts-A-Budding Art Show provided youth in the area an opportunity to compete with one another and provided a place to “show” their work. Later, the Homemakers Home Health Aide was organized under sponsorship of YWCA.
Many new projects were added to the YWCA during this time. In 1971 a need for more Health, Physical Education, and Recreation activities was experienced and HPER staff was employed. Then, Park-A-Tot child care service was started for mothers not enrolled in current YWCA programs. The first local competitive gymnastics meet was held in Quincy with the Springfield YWCA in 1974, and preliminary work was begun on restoring the exterior of the building the following year. In 1977, the YWCA building at 421 Jersey Street was officially listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, and the First Annual YWCA / YMCA Prayer Continental Breakfast was held. Finally, the basement of the building was renovated for a Teen Center.
The building was once again updated to include two full showers and dressing rooms, one for women and one for men. Ten pieces of Universal weight equipment was purchased, a sauna room was added, and a wheel chair ramp was installed. Later, the First Annual YWCA – Uptown Quincy Fashion Show was held at the new Holidome. The Great River Bluffs Neighborhood and YWCA youth cooperative programming was organized and soon after the playground area was updated with additional equipment, which was constructed and installed by volunteers.
This was a time when the YWCA was transitioning into new programs. A feasibility study was performed by a professional consultant and major building changes began in preparation for daycare programming. One year later, a daycare center opened for children six weeks to six years old. In 1992, the First Annual YWCA Women of Achievement Dinner and Women of the Year Awards were held.
We currently focus our efforts on administering a HUD-sponsored Supportive Housing Program. This is an intensive program which provides housing and direct support for up to 16 to 21 formerly homeless mothers and their children at any given time through two projects – transitional and permanent housing. HUD guidelines also restrict eligibility to those participants who are fleeing domestic violence and to those who are challenged by a physical or mental disability, chronic drug and alcohol abuse issues or HIV / AIDS. Case Managers provide the guidance and support necessary for women to gain their financial independence, strengthen their family bonds and break the cycle of poverty. We have served hundreds in the past ten years