Father’s Day and The YMCA: A History

By Hampton Peterson & Mercedes Heetland

As Father's Day approaches, let's take a moment to celebrate and honor the dads and father figures who hold a significant place in our lives. Interestingly, Father's Day has an intriguing connection to the YMCA. In this blog post, we'll embark on a journey back in time to explore the origins of this special day and discover the YMCA's pivotal role in its creation.

The heartwarming story of Father's Day begins with Sonora Louise Scott, an artist raised by a single father. Sonora believed that fathers, just like mothers, deserved recognition for their invaluable contributions. Motivated by her own father's sacrifices and support, she sought to show appreciation not only to her father but also to father figures worldwide by establishing a day of celebration.

In 1908, the same year Mother's Day was officially recognized, the first Father's Day celebration took place. This inaugural event, held in a West Virginia church, served as a tribute to the 392 men from the Monongah community who tragically lost their lives in a coal mining accident. Although initially intended as a one-time occurrence, Sonora Louise Scott's efforts laid the groundwork for the future of Father's Day.

Sonora Scott tirelessly campaigned at local churches and engaged with the YMCA, shopkeepers, and government officials to garner support for the idea of a Father's Day celebration. She proposed that the YMCA play a role in providing special gifts and meals to fathers on a designated day. After considering June 5th, which held special significance as Sonora's father's birthday, the date was eventually settled as the third Sunday in June. Thus, on June 19th, 1910, the first statewide Father's Day celebration was held at the YMCA in Washington.

The YMCA takes great pride in its historical connection to the creation of Father's Day. By offering a venue for the first official celebration, the YMCA demonstrated its unwavering commitment to family and community. At the Valley of the Sun YMCA, we hold these principles dear and encourage families everywhere to come together and celebrate Father's Day.

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