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The Young Men’s Hebrew Association (Y.M.H.A.) was founded in Boston’s South End and incorporated on January 30, 1882 by a small group of residents. At the time of it’s founding, the mission of the Y.M.H.A. was to be the impetus of “the moral, physical, intellectual and social improvement” of its members.
Lina Hecht founded the Hecht House in 1889 as the Hebrew Industrial School in the North End of Boston. The school’s primary purpose was to educate young female immigrants in a trade (particularly sewing) so that they could provide for themselves in their new country.
In 1960, Hecht House and the Boston Y.M.H.A. merged to create one organization, the Boston Y.M.H.A.-Hecht House. Their goal was to provide “the development and conducting of a comprehensive program of guided leisure time activities for its members utilizing the skills and methods of group work, informal education and recreation, and aimed at helping individuals achieve an affirmative relationship to their community.” The organization was located at 150 American Legion Highway in Dorchester and welcomed both children and adults from Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, Hyde Park and Milton.
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