The Savannah Tribune Salutes Black History Month

Members of the USO opened around 1943
Members of the USO opened around 1943

In 1942, the West Broad Street YMCA-USO was founded by a group of dedicated citizens of both races.

These persons wanted to provide for black servicemen who were active in World War II. The names of these dedicated persons are: Bishop W. S. Barnwell, Rev. C. A. Lynn, Rev. Talliaferro. Dr. J. E. Fonvielle. Atty. F. M. Oliver, Dr. Leroy G. Cleverdon. Dr. Ralph Mark Gilbert, Capt. Frank W. Spencer, Messrs. Martin G. Haynes, Sheppard, Dunham, Leroy Carter, Sol C. Johnson. D. J. Hill, John S. Delaware, Marion O. Johnston, John Q. Jefferson, Sam Adler, Charles McLean, Frank Callen, R. W. Gadsden. Jack F. Rabey, Walter S. Scott and John Less.

The above named group of citizens raised the money and bought the building located at 714 West Broad Street and turned it over to use for work among serviceman and women.

During the course of the war, USO renovated and improved the building by adding supporting columns that would make the building safe for dances and general use by the armed services.

After the war, the Citizens Committee for Negro Social Services received the building back from USO and immediately set up a YMCA. James Ellerby, a former USOYMCA director, was employed as the

Groundbreaking for the YMCA at its current location on May Street
Groundbreaking for the YMCA at its current location on May Street
first secretary of the West Broad Street YMCA. Mr. Ellerby headed up the work for a period of three years and resigned to do settlement house work in Chicago.

May 1, 1951, Joseph F. Jenkins, a former USOYMCA Director was employed to push the work of the YMCA in this community. On March 15, 1975, Eddie P. Foster was named Executive Director. Rev. L. S. Stell. Jr. served as President of the Board of Directors. Under their leadership, the West Broad Street YMCA had a meaningful and worthwhile rendering of services to the Savannah and Chatham County communities.

The branch opened in its current location in 1968. Today, Peter Doliber serves as Executive Director and continues the great work of the previous leaders.

The Y continues to rebuild its facility and its programs as it serves to help people move out of poverty. It houses an early learning program for children 6 weeks to 4 years, a before and after school program, an alternative for expelled middle school age children, afternoon tutorials, a public library, a strong summer program, as well as a variety of enrichment and recreation programs. Coming in April, the Y will launch an annual campaign to raise $20,000.

For more information visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.