Family YMCA of the Desert’s History

Where We Started

(Video courtesy of Glenn Grant)


  • Established. YMCA of Riverside offered programs in the Coachella Valley prior to opening.

1982 – 1984

  • The Y embarked on a Capital Campaign, eventually acquiring two acres of land in Palm Desert.


  • Merger with Palm Desert Youth Center on Portola Avenue to offer more services.


  • Y purchased modular facilities and moved the Youth Center and YMCA offices to Magnesia Falls Park in Palm Desert.


  • Y began to provide before and after school programs at some Desert Sands Schools (on each campus). Other programs initiated included youth basketball, day and overnight camps, and gymnastics.


  • Y holds first annual “Hoedown at Sundown” childcare fund-raiser, raising money to support childcare throughout the Valley.


  • Y after school programs were licensed per directive of California State Department of Social Services.
  • Programs launched at Monroe Elementary in Bermuda Dunes and Ford Elementary in Palm Desert.
  • Plans begin with the City of Palm Desert for Y facility construction/lease with the Palm Desert Redevelopment Agency.


  • Y Palm Desert facility opened on San Pablo Avenue, creating a central location to better serve families and children


  • Y opened YMCA La Quinta Preschool.


  • Merger with Girls, Inc., in Indio. Boards of Directors merged, creating a more diverse and active Board to expand Y services.


  • Doris Mechanick Preschool state contract acquired; preschool opened.


  • Gymnastics Center opened on Berkey Drive in Bermuda Dunes.
  • Rancho Mirage Child Development Center opened at Rancho Mirage Elementary site.


  • Jean Benson Preschool opened (February).
  • Indio Youth Center (formerly Girls, Inc) went through extensive remodel and reopened in September.


  • Y opens Child Care Center at Carter Elementary in Palm Desert.
  • La Quinta Preschool and Jean Benson Preschool state contracts acquired.
  • Gymnastics Center closed in Palm Desert.


  • Opened Amelia Earhart Elementary in Indio (October).


  • Y Board of Directors and community leaders created a comprehensive Strategic Plan for future Y services and facilities.


  • Adopted Strategic Plan- formed new board teams.


  • Acquired the former Palm Springs Youth Center; re-opened as the Palm Springs Y.
  • Opened Lincoln Elementary in partnership with the City of Palm Desert.


  • Y holds first annual “Charity Golf Tournament” (May).
  • Opened Col Mitchell Paige Middle (September).
  • Opened Adams Elementary (December).
  • Opened Ben Franklin Elementary (December).


  • Became partners with Desert Sands Unified and Palm Springs Unified School Districts in providing the state funded “After School Education and Safety” program (ASES).
  • Began outreach and fundraising for capital campaign (May).
  • Opened Carrillo Ranch Elementary (September).
  • Opened Ronald Reagan Elementary (September).


  • Contracted with the City of La Quinta to operate Y swim programs at Fritz Burns Pool.
  • Family YMCA of the Desert celebrates 25th Anniversary (October).
  • Launched partnership with Coachella Valley Housing Coalition (CVHC) to provide after school programs at four low-income family housing communities:
  • Coyote Run in Palm Springs (April), Arroyo de Paz in Desert Hot Springs (August), Fuente de Paz in Coachella (November), and Desert Gardens in Indio (October).


  • Free swim program (April).
  • Y Be Fit program began in Desert Hot Springs (September).
  • Opened Vista Dunes in La Quinta (Hope Through Housing) after school program (October).


  • Free swim program (April).
  • Y Be Fit program renewed for another year in Desert Hot Springs.
  • Opened CVHC sites Paseo de los Heroes I in Mecca (September) and Las Casas in Coachella (September).


  • Opened CVHC site at Wolff Waters in La Quinta (March).
  • Shoes That Fit program in Desert Hot Springs (May).
  • Opened CVHC site at Paseo de Los Heroes 2 in Mecca (August).
  • Opened Hope Through Housing site at River Canyon in Cathedral City.
  • Acquired additional PSUSD ASES sites; the YMCA becomes the official ASES program provider for 20 schools (16 elementary / 4 middle) in the district (September).


  • Family YMCA selected by City of Palm Desert to operate $7.5 million Palm Desert Aquatics Center, under construction (February).


  • Special Guest appearance of Olympic Swimmer Janet Evans; Hoedown at Sundown, 2012
  • Acquired additional PSUSD ASES site at Painted Hills Middle School (August).
  • Opened CVHC sites at Rosa Gardens in Palm Springs (August) and Brisas de la Paz in Desert Hot Springs (November).


  • Sustaining Campaign Honorary Chair, Janet Evans, former Olympiad.
  • Swim to Win – Largest one day Swim Safety Day ever held in valley – featuring 6 Olympian Swimmers and over 2000 people in attendance.


  • Sustaining Campaign Chair, Carl Karcher of CLK Enterprises (2013, 2014).
  • Just Add Swim (formerly Swim to Win) – Largest one day Swim Safety Day ever held in valley featuring Olympic Swimmers; over 2000 people in attendance.
  • Record breaking attendance at our Summer Day-Camps and Overnight Camps.
  • Inaugural year for Y-Be-Fit-Palm-Desert-Challenge: Reverse-Mini-Triathlon, 5K Run/Walk, 1K Color Run/Walk.


  • Successful Annual Campaign exceeded goal by $100,000.
  • New CVHC sites at Rosa Gardens (Palm Springs) and Brisas de la Paz (Desert Hot Springs).


  • Conducted the first annual YMCA winter charity golf tournament. “Rocking for the Kids” was a huge success and featured celebrity host Mickey Thomas from Starship.
  • YMCA was selected as nonprofit of the year by Palm Desert area Chamber of Commerce.


  • City of Palm Desert renewed the lease to manage all programs at the Palm Desert Aquatic Center.
  • Acquired programming from Christopher’s Clubhouse, a local nonprofit that teaches children a variety of safety skills. The YMCA will continue this valuable program to provide life skills in the area of safety for all children.


  • Successful winter Golf Tournament with Honorary Chair, Mickey Thomas of Starship fame.
  • Dodi Henry, The Nest, Sustaining Campaign Chair (2017, 2018); Record breaking year!
  •  YMCA acquired portable buildings at Amelia Earhart Elementary to conduct before and after school programs.
  •  Ended partnership with the City of La Quinta to run Fritz Burns pool.
  •  Infant Care Center (3 months and above); Opening Summer, 2019.


  • June – Board of Directors Leadership Inauguration.  Patrick Klein, Board President, Rick Shalhoub, President Elect, and Davidi Compton, Immediate Past President.

  • April – Childcare programming for children of Essential Workers and First Responders was launched.

  • August – Distance Learning Program in partnership with for children at all valley wide schools began.

  • September – Red, White & Blue Challenge Golf event

  • October – Virtual Y Be Fit

  • November – Hoedown at Sundown Denim to Diamonds Virtual Auction


  • January to May – Distance Learning Program in partnership with our valleywide schools continue for our Y children.
  • March 1 – YMCA B.I.G. Campaign; Believe, Inspire, Give Annual Campaign kicks off.
  • May 8 – YMCA B.I.G Campaign Telethon
  • May 21 –  YMCA Golf Around the World Tournament at Indian Wells Country Club
  • November 6 – YMCA Hoedown at Sundown Western Themed Event