Celebrating Fathers – a Tradition Started at the YMCA


Did you know the first Father’s Day was celebrated at a YMCA in 1910? More than a century ago, Sonora Louis Smart Dodd aspired to create a holiday to honor fathers. Dodd, the daughter of a single father and Civil War veteran, was inspired by a Mother’s Day service and wondered why there was no holiday for fathers. After securing support from ministers in Spokane, Wash., her idea came to fruition with the first Father’s Day celebration at the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910.

On Sunday, June 21, the YMCA of Austin joins the nation in celebrating Father’s Day and recognizing the impact fathers and male role models make in children’s lives. Nationally, one out of three children lives in a home without their biological father, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Additionally, societal factors such as unemployment, work-life balance or a lack of resources can affect fathers’ ability to seek support in strengthening their parenting skills and more fully engaging in the children’s lives. The Y, a leading nonprofit in fostering positive youth development, remains dedicated to providing resources and opportunities for fathers to involve themselves in the well-being and development of their children.  

“Father’s Day is about celebrating dad, but also recognizing the importance of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed male role models,” said James Finck, YMCA of Austin President and CEO. “Father’s Day reminds us why it’s important to provide fathers with the support they need to be the best parents and caregivers they can be.”

Studies show that children with close relationships with their fathers or other adult male role models have more self-confidence and exhibit less depression, perform better academically, and engage in significantly less drug and alcohol use. 

Programs like YMCA Youth Sports, slated to return to the Austin YMCA in Fall 2020, foster understanding and companionship between children and their dads, many of whom volunteer as encouraging coaches for Y teams.

We know times are challenging for families right now, living under the COVID-19 pandemic. The YMCA staff sends out love to fathers this weekend and all families. May you be healthy, safe, and have fun together on Father’s Day!

All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to info@austinymca.org

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