UCJF (the Young Women’s Christian association) is a non-profit organization founded in March 1911 within the framework of the 1901 Law of Associations, with headquarters at 22, rue de Naples, in the 8th district of Paris.
UCJF belongs to the World Alliance of Young Women’s Christian associations, established in 1894 along the lines of YMCAs (Young Men’s Christian Associations) and present in 125 countries.
The rue de Naples residence was founded by Elisabeth Fuchs (27/09/1866-06/02/1946) and inaugurated on March 10th, 1912.
As early as 1913As early as 1913, more space was needed, especially during World War I, when it became impossible to put up all those who applied for accommodation. More Unions were created in 1918 (rue Boulard and rue Orfila in Paris, rue Gouvion in Bordeaux), together with three holiday and rest homes (“L’Oiseau Bleu” in Boissy l’Aillerie, purchased with the help of the YMCAs, “le Château de Charlay” in Châtellerault, “l’Esquirou” in Port de Béon in the Pyrénées Atlantiques).
The Union was officially acknowledged as providing for the public good in 1920, «concrete evidence of the Union’s benevolent action in favour of Youth».
At the beginning of 1912, Elizabeth Fuchs wanted to develop an activity reserved for the youngest and created a French version of the Girl Guides, a popular organization in England, by adapting and propagating Baden Powell’s methods. Thus was born the first female scouting section “les Eclaireuses”.
In 1919 the Union’s restaurant became a “self-service” modeled on American cafeterias.
In 1921 the rue de Naples residence was able to put up 108 young women. That same year, 2,500 applications had to be turned down for lack of available space.
In 1922, Ms Fuchs had three floors added to the 22 rue de Naples building, 70 new beds were created, which brought the total number of places to 160. A terrace and solarium were now available on the seventh floor.
The activities of the UCJF at the time:
- Material activity : «accommodation for the most isolated young women, and a restaurant open to all well-behaved women ». The number of meals served daily rose from 100 in 1912 to 670 in 1920.
- Intellectual activity : free classes in foreign languages, gymnastics and dance, stenography, brevigraphy (a style of writing using abbreviations), French, elocution, singing, musical notation, harmonium, cutting out and sewing, hygiene. The association also provided conferences, lectures, cultural visits, a library.
- Spiritual activity : daily service, biblical study, prayer meetings, study camps.
- Social activity : free medical checkups, placement service, relief and mutual fund, visits to hospitals and holiday homes.
“Active members” mostly came from Protestant parishes, but among the “associate members” who were expected to commit themselves to “seeking a moral way of life”, there were more and more young workers, students, both French and international.The non-denominational character was established.
From then on, the UCJF became what it still is today : a secular association which does not exclude anyone, but continues to honor the Protestant values of its founders.
In 1976, thanks to a donation, the Anne-Marie Veder hostel was inaugurated in the rue Blomet, 15th district of Paris.
Since September 2006, UCJF has been open to both men and women.
In 2010 In 2010, a new impetus was given to the two UCJF residences through common management and policy with UCJG rue de Trévise, complete refurbishing of the Veder residence, renovation and the creation of new rooms at the Naples residence.