There have been some exciting discoveries made at the Buckhead YMCA. Founded in 1858, the YMCA of Metro Atlanta is the city’s oldest charitable non-profit organization, and recent renovations to the Buckhead Carl F. Sanders Family YMCA in Buckhead’s Brandon neighborhood have uncovered a gift from a past generation of YMCA staff members.
Two pillars at the Buckhead YMCA have stones that bear the dates 1886 and 1913, respectively. Located behind those stones were solid zinc boxes containing past records and newspapers, dating all the way back to 1858. As the Buckhead YMCA undergoes renovations in time for the Association’s 160th anniversary in 2018, the time capsules were removed from the area and opened.
“They used much more flowery language then than they do now,” notes Ed Munster with a chuckle about the prose found in newspapers over 100 years old. Munster, president and CEO of YMCA of Metro Atlanta, has worked in the organization for 42 years, so he’s reveling in the discovery. “This is an exciting opportunity for all of us at the YMCA of Metro Atlanta to finally view the time capsules, but on a personal level, this is pretty special.”
The past YMCA records include notes from meetings, audits and renderings of old buildings, but what really stands out for Munster is the news of the time. “It was very similar to what we read about today. The issues of the time were poverty, racism, women’s issues, the fear of international threats. There was the same uncertainty then as there is now.”
It’s sobering to see how long people have been fighting for these causes, but it also underscores the impact of an organization like the YMCA of Metro Atlanta and its Buckhead branch, which continues to strive to be a positive force in the community, and a place where people can come together. “I think one thing we learned,” Munster explains, “was just how involved so many long-time, well-known Atlanta families were in the YMCA from the very beginning.”
The contents of these capsules show that what YMCA of Metro Atlanta and its Buckhead branch continue to live out the initial goals of early members– a place where people can take refuge from the issues and challenges of the day, where people can better themselves and together form a community in Buckhead. The Metro Atlanta YMCA has been doing it since 1858, and even now as it continues to update and modernize along with the times at the Buckhead location, it manages to stay rooted in the principles on which it was founded and that have allowed it to persist and persevere over time.