The Founding Years
In February of 1963, a group of citizens met to develop a YMCA program for the Corona area and began the Corona YMCA. This "Corona Area Branch" was one of several area branches, under the YMCA of Riverside County. The group held its first sustaining membership campaign in June and raised $2,666. The first official "Y" program, "Adventure Day Camp" was offered as well as the organization of the YMCA Indian Guide tribes. By the end of 1963, a part-time executive director was hired to provide leadership and supervision for the programs, and an office was established in the Corona Theater Building, in Room 14.
In June of 1964, the first annual membership meeting was held at the Corona Bowl. Some of those in attendance were:
Ira Calvert, Russ Gauslin, Stan Grubem Lloyd Jenson, Robert McCall, Roger Miller, Joe Phillips, Robert Timlin, John Tomme, and Arloene Watts.
1964 also saw the adoption of the by-laws and an invitation to join the Corona Unified Fund.
More programming would be started for youth in 1965. The first Judo class for boys ages 8-15 was organized at Norco Jr. High and gymnastics for boys and girls started at Corona Sr. High.
In 1966, the first swimming lessons were given to the community. A total of 62 youth participated which also led to the Tiny Tots swimming instruction program. That summer also saw the hiring of the Y's first full-time executive director and the start of the summer campership program. The year ended with the start of the Annual Christmas Basketball Tournament for Jr. High School boys.
In 1967, a 2 1/2 acre building site on Parkridge Avenue was purchased and was used for Y programs. For the next two years, many programs were offered for the community. Weight lifting classes for Jr. High age boys started, First Aid courses co-sponsored by the Y and Red Cross were held, and volleyball was offered at the Y. In 1968, the Corona YMCA changed its name to what it is known today: Corona-Norco Family YMCA. By 1969, over 2,300 youth and adults participated in Y programs during the year.
In 1970, the Board of Managers decided to run a capital campaign launch. In the years leading up to the capital campaign, the Y's first after school program was started in Home Gardens.
In 1974, the groundbreaking ceremony was held and the Corona-Norco Family YMCA was incorporated. About 200 individuals were in attendance at the Y's groundbreaking. Besides the shovel work, the event featured opening and closing ceremonies conducted by the Y Indian Guides and Indian Maidens, demonstrations of various Y programs, and a short presentation outlining the history of the local Y. Some demonstrations included the Y's Judo program, and Y's gymnastics program, and the Y's karate program.
In 1975, the Y officially moved into the building on River Road. A dedication was held at the opening and 150 individuals attended in support of the Corona-Norco Family YMCA. Since the opening of the facility, many Y programs have been able to start, grow, and thrive. For the next several years programs such as Backyard Swimming Instruction, Tiny Tot Nursery School Program, Kung Fu Martial Arts Program, Disco Dance Lessons, YBA Youth Basketball League, and Tennis Programs became available.
In 1979 and beyond, the YMCA continued to provide programs and services to meet the growing needs of the community. Day Camps, Teen Leadership Development, Swim Lessons, and Summer Camps were among the programs that remained popular among the community.
In 1992, the YMCA began a new building project: the relocation of the preschool play yard. The City of Corona provided $25,000 in the Community Development Block Grant Fund. This lead to a facility plan and new dreams for the Y.
In 1995, the Board of Directors established the Ira D. Calvert Distinguished Service Awards. These awards were named in honor of "Cal" to commemorate his many outstanding philanthropic accomplishments, to recognize his fine example, and to encourage others to serve in their community.
Some of the awardees were:
- 1996 The Calvert Family in Honor of "Cal," Charlie Carter and Bob Hemborg
- 1997 Arloene Watts and Louis Vandermolen, and a special philanthropist award was given to Jeff Bennett
In 1997, with the help of Supervisor Tavaglione, Corona-Norco Unified School District and the community of Home Gardens, we opened our first satellite program center at Home Gardens Elementary School.
In 1998, Yolanda Carrillo was appointed as the new Executive Director of the Corona-Norco Family YMCA.
From 1998 to 2020, the Corona-Norco Family YMCA grew its child care program from 1 site to 7 sites. The sites expanded the Y's reach from not only Corona, Norco, and Home Gardens, but also out to Eastvale and Jurupa Valley.
In 2018, the YMCA moved its administrative staff to the Historic Civic Center, joining the Christian Arts Theater, Corona Symphony Orchestra, Corona-Norco United Way, and the Corona Historic Preservation Society.
In 2019, the YMCA acquired Kids Rock Free Music Education to provide music lessons to the community. Since 1998, the Kids Rock Free Music Education Program was held at the Fender Museum Center and offered professional caliber performing arts education and instruction to children ranging in ages from 7 - 17. The YMCA Fender Music School now teaches children 5-10 years old Introduction to Music and teaches children 6 years old to adult music lessons in drum, guitar, piano, ukulele, and vocal.
In February 2020, Youth Soccer was introduced at the Y and March began its first season.
Increasing Our Reach
2021-2023 saw significant expansion in many programs.
In March 2021, our Teen Leadership Center, located at the Home Gardens Library, reopened its doors. The Teen Leadership Center hosts an average of 12-15 teens per day, Monday - Friday from 3-6pm. The Teen Leadership Center provides teens in the community a safe space to socialize with friends, receive tutoring and mentorship, participate in projects, and make new friends.
Healthy Kids Day was celebrated for the first time at the Corona-Norco Family YMCA in April 2021. This event was held at each YMCA Child & Youth Development site, aimed at promoting healthier lives for kids and families. Today, this event is held at the Corona-Norco Family YMCA branch and hosts more than 600 families. The message remains the same in bringing health, wellness, and fun to the community.
In May 2021, the City of Corona partnered with our Y to provide swim lessons for our community. Swim lessons are provided to community members ages 6 months to adult. Since the start of swim lessons in May 2021, the Y has provided more than 4,000 swim lessons to families in Corona, Norco, Home Gardens, Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, and surrounding areas. The Y has also certified more than 40 staff since the pool partnership. Lastly, thanks to funds from First 5 Riverside, the Y has been able to provide children ages 5 years and younger living in Riverside County, free or low cost swim lessons.
In addition to swim lessons, in May 2021, Youth Basketball began at the Y.
As one Y, we came together to celebrate freedom and recognize Juneteenth in June 2021.
In October 2021, the Y expanded it's Child & Youth Development program and opened a new child care site at Lincoln Fundamental Elementary School in Corona. Also, in October, the Y began to offer Karate to the community. Additionally, the announcement of the Y's Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program took place. The focus on Health & Wellness was important to the Y and the community.
March 2022 saw the first class of the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program. The four-month rolling program focused on practicing home self-monitoring of blood pressure readings and individualized nutrition education for better blood pressure management.
In March 2023, the first annual Tropical Polar Bear Swim made its way to our pool. This event brought the cold to the Y. This event hosted more than 40 families in the community and included activities such as family fun swim, arts and crafts, pictures with our polar bear, and an ice bath.
The Summer of 2023 saw the first of many Flick and Float Movie Nights. Flick and Float Movie Nights invite families from the community to our pool. Here, families enjoy family swim time as well as a family friendly movie projected on a big screen to end the night. These nights provided fun activities for families throughout the summer.
In June 2023, two Youth and Government delegates were chosen to participate in the YMCA's Changemaker Project. This project challenged our teens into creating a project that positively impacted our community. This was the first year of our association's involvement and helped bring focus on our teens, their involvement in the community, and the opportunities the Y has for teens interested in civic engagement.
In July 2023, the Y celebrated the grand opening of our newest Child Development Center at Peace Lutheran Church. This program serves 18 month - 5 year old children.
In September 2023, our Y's basketball court, which hosts more than 300 kids per year during our Youth Basketball seasons, went through a major renovation. Six new basketball backboards, rims, and nets were installed. Four of these courts are fully adjustable for our different age groups. Also, a new sport court flooring was installed for better traction and overall experience for our kids.