1888 – On Nov. 23, prominent Christian businessmen met to organize a new community club – the YMCA. Among the original supporters was William E. Smails, cashier of the Farmers and Merchants National Bank of Fremont.
1891 – After occupying rented rooms on the second floor of the Ellick Block building between Main and Park Streets, the YMCA purchased property on the northeast corner of Fifth and Park for $8,000. Membership rose from 105 to 187 and a physical training program began in the remodeled gymnasium.
1901-1908 – The YMCA elected Mr. S.S. Sidner, father of Arthur C. Sidner, for whom many YMCA additions have been named, as its president. After a fire destroyed the gymnasium, part of the building was still usable. In 1905, the directors decided that a new building was needed if quality programs were to continue, but it wasn’t until 1906 and 1907 that enough money was raised to complete the building project. In 1907, dedication took place on April 22. S.S. Sidner laid the cornerstone. The new building consisted of three stories and a basement, each floor equipped with the “best, most modern” equipment of its time and designed to accommodate 800-1,000 members. Although women were not considered for official membership until 1969, in November 1908, a group of 60 women formed a new organization named the YMCA Auxilliary. Its purpose was “ . . . to aid in every possible way the work of the YMCA.” Football, among other sports, was a popular activity.
1916-1935 – In 1916, membership of the Y was at 659. YMCA programs were varied and plentiful and there was something for everyone. Besides a multitude of sport teams, organized programs included: Friendly Indians, a Christian citizenship program for boys 9-11 years of age; Purple Key, for young business and professional men; Senior Hi-Y, a character-building program for high school-aged boys; and Indian Maids, a club for fathers and daughters. Camp Christensen, located on Big Island south of Fremont on the Platte River, was established during the summer of 1935 as an important part of the YMCA’s summer activities.
1941-1945 – During World War II, the YMCA Women’s Committee helped establish a USO in Fremont, using part of the Fremont building for men in the armed forces. In 1944, the YMCA hosted a historical centennial pageant “starring” approximately 500 community players with Samuel I Berek, a local businessman and graduate of Midland Lutheran College, as producer and director. A fund drive that year exceeded $21,000.
1951 – Charles Groves served the longest standing term to date as the FREMONT FAMILY'S YMCA’s Executive Director, holding the position for 20 consecutive years. Under his leadership programs flourished, membership soared and, in 1965, a proposal was approved for a new facility to be built on a corner lot on Military Memorial Park. With the support of Board members and community activists, $423,753 was raised for building development.
1969 – Dedication of the new FREMONT FAMILY YMCA was a city-wide celebration. The new building boasted 23,500 square feet of space including a 25-yard regulation pool, gymnasium, three large showers and locker rooms, a lobby, storage areas and multi-purpose rooms. Mr. Groves made the comment, “The base of the old Y building would fit into the gym or swimming pool of the new Y.” The YMCA’s traditional service to men and boys was constitutionally amended in 1969 to now include women and girls – and therefore, families. Membership grew to 169 family memberships with 828 members.
1977-1979 – The YMCA Board voted to conduct a feasibility study to enlarge the current structure due, once again, to unprecedented growth. Membership increased from 1,237 members in 1970 to 2,874 members in 1977. Dedication ceremonies for added facility space took place in 1979. Useable building space had now reached 56,000 square feet; membership grew to 3,280 members.
1983-1985 – As the Fremont community grew, so did membership at the YMCA. Now with over 5,000 active members, the Y once again suffered growing pains but was aided by the thoughtful and highly generous gifts from Evelyn Sidner (Mrs. A.C. Sidner and daughter-in-law of S.S. Sidner). Along with considerable financial support from the community and several city grants, a 44,000 square foot addition to the facility was dedicated on Jan. 10, 1985, to the memory of Evelyn’s late husband, Arthur. It was named the Sidner Sports Complex.
1992-1997 – In memory of her late daughter, Anne Crofton Sidner, Evelyn Sidner once again generously stepped forward to donate $1.5 million. Shortly thereafter, the YMCA began a capital campaign that supplemented this gift by an additional $3.1 million. In the summer of 1996, the YMCA Board authorized a capital improvement campaign that ultimately raised $400,000. Membership topped out at 7,200.
1998-2003 – The FREMONT FAMILY YMCA had become a state-of-the-art facility. Following the death of Evelyn Sidner in 1998, the YMCA discovered that this tremendous friend had bequested yet another financial gift - $4,500,050 had been designated to the YMCA by Mrs. Sidner’s estate for endowment and trust funds – and specifically for an indoor ice arena. In fact, Mrs. Sidner’s estate had also earmarked funds through 2008 as an endowment for youth membership, bringing the family’s total gifts to over $7.6 million.
2004 –The FREMONT FAMILY YMCA Sidner Indoor Ice Arena became a reality on April 19, 2004. Billed as “The Coolest Place in Fremont,” the stately expansion includes an abundance of fabulous programs geared toward both beginning and advanced skaters. The square footage of the entire YMCA facility is now an impressive 190,000 square feet with more to come – a new Wellness Center is on the agenda for the near future. Thanks to the Sidner family, as well as a multitude of others dedicated to the Y’s prosperity and well-being, the FREMONT FAMILY YMCA has high aspirations for the future.
2006 – As stated above, a new Wellness Center was next on the YMCA’s "wish list." With the wellness/weight equipment being housed in three different rooms in the YMCA and most of the equipment being outdated or in need of repair, it was easily apparent that a new direction needed to be taken in order to meet the needs and wants of our current/future members. In the fall of 2006, the YMCA opened its 10,000-square foot state-of-the-art Hazel R. Keene Wellness Center. This room was divided into four distinctive areas – cardio, resistive weights, free weights and circuit. Also, by adding the new Wellness Center, an agreement was reached between the YMCA and Midland Lutheran College that all MLC full-time students and employees would become YMCA members, thereby saving them the cost of building their own Wellness Center with the construction of their new Event Center. This added an additional 1,000 new members to the YMCA. The FREMONT FAMILY YMCA is now the 2nd largest YMCA in the United States.
2007 – Sometimes in life something very positive can come from a very tragic situation. That’s the case with the Katie Humphrey Fitness Studio. Katie was a loyal and faithful member of the YMCA and took advantage of the many fitness classes that were offered. . Unfortunately, Katie was taken from us through a horrible act of domestic violence. But through the forethought of the YMCA’s Board of Directors, they wanted to make a living memorial to Katie. The Fitness Center was totally converted – new paint, acoustics, mirrors, sound system and air-conditioning was added along with new fitness classes to complement the established classes for all ages and abilities.
2009 – The FREMONT FAMILY YMCA has seen its membership grow to over 9,000 members. In 2007, 120 acres of land with a 50 acre lake on West Military Avenue was donated to the Y by the Christensen family. Plans started being put together on how this camp will be developed over the next several years.
2010 – A concern that the FREMONT FAMILY YMCA wants to address is childhood obesity that is reaching epidemic proportions throughout the United States. Many youth who come to the YMCA do not use it as a place to work out or exercise, but more as a place to gather and hang out with their friends. How do we get those kids active and have fun with their friends at the same time? That’s how The Underground came to be. Opening on September 27, The Underground offers youth, ages eight through high school many computer-generated games, but these games have a unique component – you must be up and moving to get them to work. While these kids are having a great time playing the games, they don’t realize that they are also getting a great workout at the same time.
2011 – The year started off with a bang at the FREMONT FAMILY YMCA with the announcement that membership had gone over the 10,000 member mark. As of January 31, the YMCA had 10,047 members. That number continues to grow as the year goes on. 2011 also brought another challenge to the YMCA as it was hit with an F1 tornado in June causing the loss of one air conditioning unit and major roof damage which caused the closing of one gym until repairs can be made and the moving of the Y-Care kids to the Sidner Ice Arena for the remainder of the summer. Even through all of this, the YMCA managed to keep the doors open with minimal inconvenience.
2015 - The Christensen Family YMCA Camp and the Hazel R. Keene Lodge are completed and open to the community. The lodge provides the Fremont community a premier facility for hosting meetings and events, as well as summer camp! The 50 acre lake provides the opportunity for kids to interact with nature, swim, fish, and boat.
2018 - The Dillon Family Aquatic Center opened at the Fremont Family YMCA in February of 2018. This new, 30,000 square-foot facility houses one body of water with six 50-meter lanes running east and west, and 12, 25-yard lanes that will accommodate competitive and recreational swimmers at the same time. In addition, there’s seating for upward of 400 people, two locker rooms, a hot tub, steam room, family changing rooms, a splash pad and a diving well.
2019 - The Fremont Family YMCA converts the former instructional pool into a new indoor field turf room. The former lap pool is converted to additional Wellness Center space. Included in the expansion will be additional free weight area, Queenax group functional and suspended body weight training system, TRX Suspension Training equipment, dead lifting platforms, squat racks, tire flip, kettle bells, and small group training classes and opportunities. When completed, the Wellness Center will be over 15,000 square feet!