Founded by Bertha Martin
— 1916 · Massillon, Ohio —
Bertha Martin founded the Young People's Christian Association (YPCA) in 1916 and later served as secretary of the YWCA until 1937.
The organization operated a restaurant on West Main Street (Lincoln Way West) at Canal Street (First Street Southwest), where they fed recruits of "Massillon's Own" Company K as they trained for World War I duty. The government paid 75¢ per day for each of the 100 men. The YPCA disbanded in 1919, the YWCA was incorporated in 1921 and the cafeteria operated under the auspices of the YWCA until 1971. During the early 1960s, the cafeteria served 12,000 meals a week. With a generous bequest in 1921 from Martha Corns Chapman, the YWCA leased and later obtained a building on Park Row at Charles Avenue, facing Mill Street (First Street Southeast). Soon, a Junior Business Women's Club was founded as was the YWCA Young Mother's Club, which existed into the late 1960s.
In 1945-46, 1,600 local women and girls were involved in the Massillon YWCA. During the 1960s, the YWCA offered camping for girls and hosted the Y-Teen program for junior and senior high school girls, featuring socials, programs on teen topics such as grooming and poise, and alternating annual trips to Washington D.C. and New York City. "Canteen," a dance for teenagers, was popular throughout the 1960s. In 1961, the Social Planning Council of United Way organized YWCA Senior Citizens. Under the leadership of its first director, Grace Wilson, membership grew to 900 by 1975. The organization became a valuable asset of the community.
The YWCA sold its building to the city in 1973 and moved with its assets into the YMCA building where activities concentrated on fitness and a new child care program. In 1997, the YWCA separated from the YMCA to regain its identity and focus on its original mission of creating opportunity with freedom, dignity, and equality for all women. The YWCA operated in several locations throughout the city of Massillon before purchasing a former mansion on Lincoln Way East in 2003. The child care flourished and the YWCA continued to provide nutritional meals to the day care children and infants. An animal outreach program was established for nursing home residents and "Families Under Stress" began providing court ordered supervised visitation and counseling. In 2001, the YWCA instituted the "Early Learning Initiative" and "Help Me Grow" programs.
Due to a lack of funding, the Massillon YWCA closed December 31, 2010.