About Us

Our Mission

“We believe that helping youth achieve their full potential is our primary mission. We seek to help youth develop leadership and citizenship skills for a lifelong commitment to service through character-building programs for all that strengthen spirit, mind and body.”

-adopted 1992

Meet the Team

Chandler Grooms

Executive Director

Alicia Ridenour

Financial development and administration

Sharon Cassidy

Horseshoe administrative coordinator

Stacie Pearson

program coordinator

Riley Keaton

Development Coordinator

Kelley Bunner

Horseshoe Director

Jacob Boyce

District Director

Chase Denny

Program specialist

Mary Smith

horseshoe Heritage arts director

Larry Molen

Cave Lake OPerations manager

Brad Long

development coordinator

David Cooper

Horseshoe Director

Our History

We began as a State YMCA in 1867. Today we are an Association open to all. Our longest serving YLA Chapter is McClain High School in Greenfield, Ohio, chartered in 1928 and new YLA Chapters are created each year. 

  • In 1867, the Young Men’s Christian Association of Ohio was organized. Around this time in the 1800’s, there was no West Virginia State YMCA, but there were local associations in Wheeling (1859), Parkersburg (1867), Huntington (1885), and Charleston (1890). In 1909, the YMCA of West Virginia was chartered.
  • Throughout the 20’s and 30’s, more and more Hi-Y’s would be created across both states, and programs and conferences started to expand.
  • In 1940, the WV State YMCA would open Camp Horseshoe in a lease arrangement with the United States Forest Service. The USFS had the Civilian Conservation Corps build Horseshoe as a national demonstration pilot project. The USFS wanted to see if an organization could operate a resident camp for the benefit of those who could not otherwise have a resident camp experience. The first Camp Horseshoe Director was Frank Liddle who was assisted by his wife, Marge. That same year, Horseshoe held it’s first Adventure Camp for children and also became the State Hi-Y Camp.
  • In 1942, discussions began about a merger of the Ohio Area YMCA and the State YMCA of West Virginia. 
  • Effective January 1, 1943, the Ohio-West Virginia Area YMCA began operation. 
  • In 1952, the first Ohio Youth in Government was held on April 25 – 27, at the Statehouse, with Attorney General C. William O’Neill, Chairman.
  • In 1958, the first West Virginia Youth in Government was held at the Capitol with Governor Cecil Underwood as Chairman.
  • Moving ahead to the late 60’s and early 70’s, This period was one of transition and difficulty as the new National YMCA organization plan called for the elimination of Area YMCAs and any remaining State YMCAs. The Ohio-West Virginia Area Council YMCA ceased to operate program in 1970, as the Ohio-West Virginia Area YMCA and the State YMCA of Michigan became the Great Lakes Region YMCA on January 1, 1970.
  • As part of the arrangement of joining the Region, the Ohio-West Virginia Area YMCA insisted that the HI-Y, Camp Horseshoe, and Youth in Government programs be given a chance to continue.
  • In December of 1971 the Region Executive, Robert Atkinson, appointed David King to serve as Executive of what was called the West Virginia-Ohio YMCA, operated by the Great Lakes Region. The West Virginia-Ohio program would be responsible for HI-Y in both states, HI-Y Fall Conference, Ohio and West Virginia Youth in Government, and Camp Horseshoe.
  • In 1972, The office was moved to Pt. Pleasant, WV, from Clarksburg, WV, to provide a low cost office and location that was convenient to both Columbus and Charleston and was in the middle of the two state service area.
  • In 1975, YOC Camp was first held at Horseshoe through the work of Camp Committee member Hubert Lake.
  • In 1981, YMCA Model United Nations was held for junior high students, and the first Hi-Y Leadership Camp was held at Horseshoe.
  • In 1982, the Great Lakes Region Board authorized an Interim Board to organize and charter a new “Ohio-West Virginia YMCA.” that would assume responsibility for the HI-Y, Camp Horseshoe, Youth in Government, Model United Nations, and College Y programs in the two states.
  • In 1984, the new Ohio-West Virginia YMCA is chartered by the National Board YMCA and began operating on January 1, 1984. Donald B. Leach, Jr. is the first President.
  • In 1991, Sr. Model United Nations Assemblies were established in Ohio and in West Virginia for senior high youth.
  • In 1999, the OH-WV YMCA purchased Cave Lake in Ohio.
  • Fast forward to 2012, and we find ourselves in another transition. Based on the actions of the Ohio Alliance of YMCA’s and their support by the YMCA of the USA, the Board of the Ohio-West Virginia YMCA voted to change the name to Ohio-West Virginia Youth Leadership Association and withdraw from the YMCA by December 31, 2012. 
  • Effective January 1, 2013, all current programs now continue as YLA Camp Horseshoe, Ohio YLA Youth in Government, West Virginia YLA Youth in Government, YLA Model United Nations, and HI-Y clubs become YLA Chapters.

Next Steps...

You can get involved with YLA.  Anyone and everyone is welcome! Students – register for a program. Teachers & Parents – find out how to get your students involved and start a YLA Community Chapter.  Alumni, Friends, & Supporters – A small donation can go a long way towards changing somebody’s life.

Contact Us

EMAIL

PHONE

304-675-5899

FAX

304-675-5977

ADDRESS

400 Main St., 2nd Floor   P.O. Box 239  Point Pleasant, WV 25550