Jack Semones’s drive to Town North YMCA was nothing out of the ordinary on Saturday, June 15th as he was expecting a small gathering of family and friends to celebrate his 93rd birthday. Once arrived however, that ordinary feeling was completely out of question. Gathered in front of the YMCA was hundreds of extended friends and family who have traveled far and wide for this special occasion. A surprise that was in the process for months was now finally revealed: the name of Town North changing to Semones Family YMCA in order to honor the impact that Jack Semones has made on Town North community. As the ‘Happy Birthday’ banner dropped to reveal the Semones Family YMCA hanging above, tears of surprise and gratitude filled Semones’s eyes. Semones takes the time to look back on his experience with the Y and the monumental moments that shaped him into the man he is today.  

“My first experience with the YMCA was when I was ten years old in Ohio. I am from a family of 12 children and was raised poor (we were a happy family but didn’t have any money). It cost $5 to play baseball in the Y program and I was down there watching them assign teams and the Y director at the time told me to come down and that they wanted me to play. I told him that I didn’t have the $5 and he told me that I could earn it. So, he hired me to pick up the bases and trash off the fields."  

From there on, Semones's love for the YMCA only continued to grow. Coming to Dallas in 1952, Semones worked for the Park Cities Y, now Moody Family YMCA, until asked to start what today is known as the Town North YMCA (and now officially the Semones Family YMCA).  "I started the Y out of my car with my phone. I had a trampoline that I put on top of my old 47 Ford and I went out and set it out on Hillcrest and Royal Lane." Jack explains. "When I started bouncing on the trampoline the kids came like flies. I wouldn’t let them jump on the trampoline until I met their parents. Most of the families loved what we were doing and supported me, in fact, I haven’t been having my trampoline out for very long until three of those families put trampolines in their yard so I could come to their yard instead of having in in my Ford."  


Following the banner reveal, dinner was served, and family and friends shared stories of ways that Jack impacted not only them, but the community surrounding the Y he started. A letter written by the co-captain of the swim team in 1967, Linda Frasher Meigs, shares her two-minute experience with Jack and how those short minutes changed the way she viewed herself. Waiting for her ride to pick her up after a grueling swim practice, Linda felt exhausted and unknown until Jack came out and saw her sitting on the curb. Acknowledging Linda’s presence, he expressed his recognition of her and told her that “the world needs more kids like you.” This statement shocked Linda and gave her a lifetime reminder of her importance and inspiration to continue to work to be the kid that the world needs more of. It was in these simple ways of sitting down for a couple of minutes with someone else and recognizing their importance that Jack was able to use his gift of making others feel known and loved every single day.  

Town North's (now Semones Family) success today can be brought back to Semones passionate heart and determination to create a home for the community. However, Jack sees it in a different light. "It’s not me who created all of this, I just found good people and good programs and I had lots of people in this community to let this grow." Jack explains. "I just facilitated it, but the community was the one who made the difference. I couldn’t do anything without them." Throughout it all, Jack stays grounded to what matters the most to him. "I love the Lord, I love my family, and I love the YMCA. "  

Authored by: cmccauley