Western Hoedown to Celebrate the YMCA’s 50 Year Anniversary

(The following is a press release)

The Southeast Ventura County YMCA’s 50th anniversary and the Conejo Valley’s country roots will be celebrated at a western hoedown, Thursday, October 2 at 6 p.m. at the Conejo Valley YMCA (4031 N. Moorpark Rd., Thousand Oaks).

Original Conejo Valley YMCA sign is raised in 1964.

Original Conejo Valley YMCA sign is raised in 1964.

Country music artist, Justin Honsinger, and his band will perform. The evening will include line dancing (for beginners as well as experts) and dinner provided by Wood Ranch Barbecue.

On display will be a “walking timeline” of the Y’s 50-year history created by the Conejo Valley Y’s Men’s Club. Skip Best, a long-time club member, has assembled storyboards that include YMCA newspaper articles, programs, pictures and memorabilia dating back over 50 years.

Best was one of the original organizers of the Conejo Y. In 1964, movie star Joel McCrea donated part of his ranch land to the Y. That same year, the first building was constructed on the 35-acre site—a community room. “It was only supposed to be temporary but it’s still in use 50 years later,” said Best. “The Conejo Y’s office buildings were donated by professional golfer Dave Stockton. They were the real estate sales offices of homes being built in Westlake Village. They were supposed to be temporary too. Back in the early days, volunteers did all the work. We would just round up work parties and get it done.”

Besides constructing the community room and placing the office buildings on the site, volunteers from the Y’s Men’s Club built the red tiled roof bathrooms near the YMCA athletic field, a Frisbee golf course and BMX riding trail.

After the Conejo Valley YMCA was established, three other branches followed. The Conejo YMCA originally ran the Simi Valley Y, but demand in Simi Valley was so high, a separate branch was formed in 1984. The Triunfo YMCA began serving Westlake Village, Agoura Hills and Oak Park in 1989. It will open its own healthy living, recreation and sports facilities in 2015. The Miller Family YMCA of Newbury Park opened its 15,000 square foot facility in 2007.

Through the years, generations of kids have learned to swim at the Y, have gone to Y camp and taken part family activities such as the Y Adventure Guides. “There is a lot of excitement about our 50th anniversary,” said Rick Politte, president and CEO of the Southeast Ventura County YMCA. “When we talk about this event in the community, people take the time to tell us their Y stories. We’ve been serving this community for 50 years. A lot of people have wonderful family memories from their time spent at the Y.”

Best says he will always have a soft spot in his heart for the Y. His youngest son, Rick, was born paralyzed from the chest down. “He wanted to do everything his older brothers did,” said Best. “He insisted on learning to swim so the Y sent one of its swim instructors to a school to learn how to teach those with disabilities to swim. Rick became an excellent swimmer. These are the kinds of things the Y does.”

“The Y is for everyone, young, old and in the middle,” said Politte. “It is a place where all people can come to be healthy in spirit, mind and body. We look forward to staying true to this mission for the next 50 years and beyond.”
Sponsors supporting the hoedown are Borderline Bar and Grill, Boston Private Bank and Trust, The Conejo Y’s Men’s Club and the Ventura County Star.

Admission is $35 per person ($300 for a table of 10). Shuttle parking is at Cal Lutheran University (corner of Mountclef Blvd. and Olson Rd.). For more information: 805-497-3081, ext. 108, www.sevymca.org/. To order tickets online, go to www.eventbright.com

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