Sydney Y’s Men’s Club marks 90th year of helping residents

ys men 1922The first meeting to discuss the creation of the Sydney Y’s Men’s Club was held in August 1922 at Petersfield Park in Point Edward. From left, front row, Fred MacInnis, Leonard Snow, John MacKinnon, Henry Pope, G.B. Richmond. M. R. Chappell and H. F. Moriarty; second row, unknown, Alex MacDonald, T. W. Miles, Dan MacKinnon, Wilfred Edmonds, Donald Morrison, Fred Boutilier, O. N. Mann; back row, Alex Kennedy, H. M. Israel, Gordon Spencer, H.S.F. Parsley, and Gordon Hill. © Submitted by Sandy Reynolds

Cape Breton Post - March 01, 2013

One of Cape Breton’s oldest community service clubs finds itself at a crossroads as it celebrates its 90th year of service to those in need.

The Sydney Y’s Men’s Club holds the distinction of being the first club to receive an international charter from the organization which was first formed in 1923 in Ohio.

Local club president Sandy Reynolds boasts that the Sydney club put the organization on the international map and continues to be the oldest, active club in the organization.

An affiliate of the YMCA, the club is mandated to promote and support the work of the YMCA along with specifically targeting services and programs aimed at youth. It now operates in 70 countries with a membership of nearly 30,000.

The club’s most prominent local project is the annual Christmas Cheer program which collects everything from toys to dinner items which are delivered to families in need during the holiday season.

But as Reynolds and former president Harry Henderson scan today’s membership roster, they fear the club’s future is in jeopardy with only 16 members with the youngest being in his early 60s.

Reynolds said although the club was first formed as a men’s organization, it has opened its ranks to women. He also noted there is no minimum age requirement to sign on as a member.

“If you are willing to help others, interested in leadership development, opportunities to travel, then you should join the Sydney Y’s Men’s Club,” said Reynolds.

“We are worried what the future may hold for the club but as long as Harry and I are around, there will be a club,” said Reynolds, adding any demise of the club will be fought long and hard.

Reynolds and Henderson have both held executive positions at the local, national and international levels and they both agree that among the reasons they stay committed to the organization is the fellowship among members and the social aspect of the club in being able to connect with other members from around the globe.

“I have enjoyed every minute of being in the club,” said Henderson, adding he has amassed a lifetime of memories from club projects and networking with other members from around the world.

Over the years, the Sydney club has involved itself in a host of community projects including hosting music and comedy revues along with projects aimed at making the lives of others better. The projects also include a number of fundraisers as the club depends on community support — financial and in-kind services — in order to complete its work.

Reynolds said over the decades, the club has helped thousands of Cape Breton families through its Christmas program and it would be great if some of those recipients returned to lend their support to the club.

“We don’t ask for a lot of time,” said Reynolds, adding the club is very flexible in offering members projects to work on.

Also, he said, potential members can attend three meetings before deciding whether to join.

There are two other Y’s Men’s clubs on the island — Glace Bay and Coxheath — and there are 13 such clubs across the Maritimes.

Reynolds said anyone interested in joining can call any member or call the Cape Breton YMCA, 562-9622 for further information.

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