RIDGEWOOD YMCA 201.444.5600
Ridgewood YMCA 201.444.5600

World Service

Founded in 1889, YMCA World Service raises awareness of and financial support for the powerful work of the global YMCA movement. Each year, the YMCA World Service Campaign raises and distributes more than one million dollars to YMCAs around the world to help strengthen their ability to develop and deliver critical programs and services that are changing lives. Often operating in difficult social and economic conditions, YMCAs help people to thrive through programs such as HIV/AIDS prevention, job training and youth development. Such programs empower young people and adults with the knowledge, life skills, values and resources to reach their full potential and create a better future for themselves and their families.

When you support YMCA World Service, you are contributing to the development of strong YMCAs that are able to effectively address the critical issues impacting their communities in a sustainable manner.


The Ridgewood YMCA was founded in 1902 and has been involved in World Service initiatives since World War II when we collected tons of salvage materials to help the Allies. The first international camp program was in 1963 when a group of boys went to Puerto Rico.

The mid 1980s saw the need for international relief to Africa and the YMCA responded to the call. As a result, in 1985 the YMCA of Greater New York recognized the Ridgewood YMCA’s commitment to the Africa Crisis Campaign and invited Ridgewood’s CEO, Bob Sheppard,  to be part of its larger committee. While assessing the program needs firsthand in Africa, Sheppard developed a relationship with the headmaster of a small YMCA school in a rural village in Kondo, Kenya. Upon his return to Ridgewood, the Kondo YMCA and school became a major programming initiative. The YMCA, through a letter campaign, raised almost $40,000 over a ten year period to help complete an irrigation system that saved hundreds of lives, and replaced a thatch-roofed stick hut with a multi-roomed school building. These projects helped a community grow and become self sufficient. The spirit continued with other staff members visiting Africa providing both financial and professional support. African staff also visited the Ridgewood YMCA completing the circle of partnership.


  • The international work continues and has expanded to other countries. Since 1985 the Ridgewood YMCA has partnered with Kenya, Senegal, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Haiti in a variety of World Service efforts including our International Camp Program (ICP).
  • In 1996, the Ridgewood YMCA had its first International Camp Program to Kenya. The ICP group, comprised of 14 teenagers from the metropolitan area and two leaders, dug trenches and laid water pipes to help irrigate the crops and bring water to the village.
  • In 1997, the Ridgewood YMCA formalized its partnership with the Senegal YMCA, furthering its commitment to helping YMCA's in need. ICP Kenya completed the water project in Kondo, Kenya.
  • In 1998, the Ridgewood YMCA International Camp Program shifted its focus to Reynosa, Mexico, where young people built a house for a needy family.
  • Since 1994, the Ridgewood YMCA has partnered with the Senegal YMCA in staff exchange programs, and has financially supported their efforts to become a self sufficient YMCA. To date, ICP participants have worked on several reforestation projects, plus building, painting and refurbishing YMCA schools and walls.
  • In 2006, a “Bug Net Challenge” encouraged the village of Ridgewood to make donations for mosquito nets to help eradicate malaria in small villages. Four thousand dollars was raised through this effort, providing 1000 mosquito nets.
  • In 2007, the Ridgewood YMCA had its first ICP group visit the Dominican Republic. Fourteen teenagers built houses in Don Gregorio where a YMCA school thrives but the surrounding community is in tremendous need.
  • In 2012, The Ridgewood YMCA took 11 teens to Dominican Republic, working on reforestation, building of homes in Don Gregorio and fixed up children centers throughout local DR villages.


The Ridgewood Y's relationship with Haiti bagan in 2004 with our co-sponsorship of the Haiti YMCA summer sports camp program.

Through the Ridgewood Y’s World Service program, we donated $2000 to the summer soccer camp program and also sent $1,600 for computers, $1,000 for scholarships, $5,000 for hurricane emergency relief and also started an English language library. We have since continued to donate to the soccer program each year.

In 2009, the National YMCA de Haiti Soccer Team was started and Tom Wells, Chairman of the YMCA World Service program, and Rick Claydon, Ridgewood YMCA CEO, traveled to Haiti to cheer on the team and visit the newly opened YMCA in the town on Kenscoff.  

Following the earthquake in January of 2010, the Ridgewood Y, in conjunction with the Wells Mountain Foundation, undertook a major clothing drive to deliver twelve 40-foot containers of clothing to Haiti and to purchase and retrofit the containers for new uses in Haiti. In cooperation with the retailer Aéropostale, over 200,000 pairs of jeans were shipped to Haiti. To learn more about the relationship between the Ridgewood Y and Haiti please click the links below.

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