George Williams, the founder of the world’s largest and the oldest youth charity organization, Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), was born on October 11, 1821, at Dulverton in Somerset, England. He was one of the seven sons of Amos, who was a farmer and his wife, Elizabeth. He received his early education in his hometown and later started to take care of the family land.
He turned out to be a philanthropist and founded YMCA on June 6, 1844. His aim was to help the young people to progress and grow within their communities. Very little has been written by historians about him.
We have compiled some exciting facts about this English donor for our readers in this article.
George Williams: 7 cool and exciting points about this philanthropist
1. He founded YMCA in response to the industrial revolution
Williams was too upset after observing the living conditions of one of his native Englishman. This was the time when the industrial revolution took place, and initially, it ditched many people to live in abject deprivation and poverty. Sir Williams gathered information from the Bible after thorough study and examination. He sought help from his Christian friends, and they worked together, which resulted in the formation of YMCA. An interesting factt about George Williams is that he was 22 years old when he founded YMACA.
Since its formation, this organization is promoting Christianity, and according to historians, William’s employer and his father-in-law, George Hitchcock, was one of the earliest contributors to this newly formed organization.
2. He is the great grandfather of incumbent UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Sir George Williams termed himself an extraordinarily careless and godless young fellow during his youth years. He met an accident, after which he was asked to learn cloth merchandizing. Williams is the great grandfather of the current British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, through his son Frederick Williams, an interesting George Williams fact.
3. William’s associates were against YMCA’s activities
YMCA expanded to 20 countries around the globe, and it has 2500 branches in America alone. When Sir George Williams was working on launching this organization, some of his associates were against its establishment. Regarding YMCA formation, Williams was of the view that the objective behind YMCA’s creation is to improve the social and religious condition of the young people through Bible study, holding social and family prayer gatherings, and enhancing mutual coordination and cooperation within people and different communities.
According to him, this organization is supposed to improve the spiritual wellbeing of youngsters. It happened that several of the young members of this organization indulged in physical education due to which some of the people were of the view that YMCA should not be involved in imparting physical education to youngsters.
When YMCA became a success in England, a retired sea captain, Thomas Valentine Sullivan, from Boston, felt the need to create something similar to the British YMCA for merchants and sailors. He wanted to enhance their thinking capabilities and to enable them to contribute positively to the development of their communities and society. On December 29, 1851, he formed YMCA, USA chapter, in Boston.
4. George Williams was against male swimwear
He was against male swimwear and wanted them to cover the whole of their body. It was in the year 1960 when the US government imposed a ban on nudity and introduced new regulations for male as well as the female.
When George Williams formed YMCA, this organization at that time did not adopt a national stance. It allowed all locations to formulate their own rules keeping in view the needs of the people and prevalent culture and tradition.
5. He used to work at a draper’s shop
He started to work at the draper’s outlet in Bridgewater as a trainee. He left this business and re-joined in the year 1841. Later, in 1844, he was promoted to the position of department manager within the same clothing business.
He married Helen Jane Hitchcock in 1853. Helen was the daughter of William’s boss. After marrying her, he joined the Weigh House Congregational Church and spared time for preaching.
6. He was honoured by British Queen Victoria
George Williams died on November 6, 1905, and was laid to rest at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, an interesting fact about George Williams. He was honoured by British Queen Victoria. There is a stained glass window in the south passageway of Westminster Abbey’s nave to commemorate the services of YMCA during World War I. Sir Williams’ two portraits can be seen at the window base. One portrait is from his youth years while the other one is from his old age.
This window was planned and designed by Dudley Forsyth. Colin Williams, William’s great-grandson, made a donation for the recent Abbey’s uplift and restoration. He also gifted a small glass window, inscribed with the YMCA logo. This glass window has been installed at the Abbey’s Lady Chapel.
Sir George Williams University, located in Montreal, was founded by YMCA, and it was named to honor this English philanthropist. This university was later combined with Concordia University, but the previous campus was retained as Sir George William Campus.
7. Williams’ YMCA Workers invented the basketball and volleyball games
James Naismith, an instructor at Massachusetts International Training College in Springfield, created the basketball game during the 1891 winter season. He was also a YMCA member and developed the game to energize the youngsters. It is because of YMCA contributions that basketball became the most popular sport in China. According to an estimate, around 300 million Chinese are fond of playing this sport. This game was introduced in China by YMCA missionaries during the 19th century.
Around 4 years later, another YMCA instructor, William G. Moran, developed the indoor volleyball game as an alternative to Naismith’s sport. This game is now a popular game across the globe.
So, readers, these were some important facts about the YMCA founder. This organization was completely shut down in Russia from 1920 till 1990, even though it had a strong presence across the country. Since the ban has been lifted, the organization is contributing positively towards the uplift of the people belonging to various communities.
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