The PEYMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) was formally opened on 3rd September 1958 by Clr I.E Struan-Robertson, the former mayor of Port Elizabeth at Havelock Street Central Port Elizabeth. The Official take-over of the building which was formerly the Malvern House Hotel, took place on the 1st July, 1958. The building was known as the Metropole Hotel, when first built. The main objective of the association is to unite young men for their spiritual, mental and social welfare.
In 1870 during the period of June 14th to September the YMCA had shown its presence in Port Elizabeth inviting the public to lectures which were to be given by various ministers. This initiative continued and other session of lectures was held on the 12th September 1871 at the Grey Institute by Rev T. E Fuller of Cape Town. This was on the subject, “Building and Pictures in Venice”. In 1873 the PEYMCA had their membership on 50 who were able to conduct elocution classes and debates. Reading rooms and classes were also held at the premises in Havelock Square, which provided wholesome recreation. In 1882, the PEYMCA got further exposure in the Eastern Province Herald congratulating the association upon the success which has attended to the stakeholder’s efforts since its establishment.
During 1905 the YMCA moved into Ashley House building, named after Lord Ashley from England at 12 Havelock Street. This building was used as a boarding house for members. Lord Ashley was a leading figure in the YMCA circles in England. Additionally to that, the YMCA used the top floor of the African Banking Corporation in Main Street for recreational activities. The bank was later incorporated into Standard Bank. The building was eventually demolished and replaced by Garlicks Stores. The YMCA premises were not only used for the activities of the “Y” but were opened to the community at large. This attracted the Algoa Motor, mechanics and drivers association to hold its first meeting at the YMCA at 12 Havelock Street.
During the period from 1909, the General Secretary was Mr T C White, who came from Taunton, England. He resigned sometime in 1919 to establish his own business. He became a Town Councillor, eventually becoming Mayor and then president of the Port Elizabeth Rotary Club in 1924. His position as Secretary was taken over by Mr Hutchinson on a part-time basis. He was educated at the Grey Institute and worked for a while at the Guardian Assurance Company. He then subsequently took up a position at the Eastern Province Herald. Unfortunately he was killed trying to save a friend from an approaching car. This resulted in the closed down of activities by the YMCA
The PEYMCA was then re-establishment in 1955. The P.E. Rotary Club’s Youth Committee, under the chairmanship of Mr Charles Anderson re-established the PEYMCA and it was unanimously welcomed by many firms and individuals around the Port Elizabeth area. The first General Secretary was Mr Henry Schumann, who had previously been a Lt. General in the British Navy. While on a visit to Port Elizabeth in 1958, Moira Lister, the famous actress gave a performance in the Crispin Hall. This was done to raise funds towards the purchase of a building. Another fundraising initiative was the presentation of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” by Harold Slater in June 1961. This was sponsored by the Rotary Club. In May 1960, Mr Schumann and Mr John Stadler, who had previously been on the staff at YMCA Johannesburg, took over as General Secretary. During the years that followed the YMCA became increasingly involved in the life of the City.
The YMCA has evolved over the years with a different vision and mission. It holistically focuses on its purpose that seeks to provide opportunities for young people to develop themselves in a way that will touch their families and communities in a positive way. The association looks into empowering young people for life and leadership into being better people in their communities. The PEYMCA restructured in 1995 and moved to the Northern areas of Port Elizabeth at Aubrey Street; Gelvandale which has become the centre of its local activities.
In our existence, we run programs relating to life skills, spiritual growth, arts & culture programs, campus ministry, youth justice and rehabilitation. The premise provides accommodation for groups of students from Government institutions and adjacent local authorities to perform their duties in different aspects of their training. We provide educational tours such as leadership camps to schools in disadvantaged communities. The Educare Centre situated within the premise continues to provide a useful educational facility to assist with after school programmes. It has made considerable impact on the local community, having reached into over two thousand homes since its inception some twelve years ago. Part of the PEYMCA is the Eluvuyo Crèche which answered the call to the plight of the poor to have day-care services in the locations in the township. This has been instrumental in continuous learning, preparing children for primary school.