In the end, what it took to get the YMCA up into Hesperia was two determined women.

The Young Men's Christian Association has been in San Bernardino County for 124 years, but until Monday, the High Desert had no YMCA to call its own.

April Markham and Kim Schwing changed all that.

"Well, it's funny, because I was already friends with Kim, and one day I just started talking to her, because I was concerned about our community," Markham said Thursday.

"I was raised close to the Torrance YMCA," Markham said. As a teenager, she had even taught an exercise class there. "The YMCA has always been a positive thing."

But making the leap from being a believer in what a YMCA can mean for a community to actually helping start up a branch were two very different things.

"I've never known of any YMCAs growing up that were brand new," Markham said. "It's a difficult process. ... Between Kim and I, we were trying to hunt down with someone who's been involved with the YMCA that actually started one."

Everyone thought it was a great idea, but turning that goodwill into funding and manpower was the real challenge.

"The initial phone call that we made to the YMCA of the USA ... was not a big deal. It's just that you have to get enough people who want to get involved," Markham said. "When you don't have an actual facility, you don't have something to visualize."

And the economic realities of the High Desert also proved a challenge for the pair.

"Out here, you do have quite a few lower income families, and they can't always afford to contribute," Markham said.

The new office on I Avenue -- a branch of the YMCA of the East Valley -- doesn't have a swimming pool or basketball court or even an activities room. But it will one day lead to all of that, members hope.

"The next stage is [getting] the actual land," Markham said. "We do have something in mind, but we have to do all the logistics."

Where it'll be is being kept a secret for now, and focusing on which community it's placed in somewhat misses the point, according to Markham.

"We want it to be known as the High Desert YMCA, even if it's placed in Victorville or Hesperia."

The goal is to have the facility fully open by 2010, but a lack of a facility isn't stopping the staff of the new YMCA from planning programs in the meantime, as part of the Y Without Walls program.

"Both of us have always felt that the lord himself gave us this idea. ... We've been working on this idea for three years now," said Markham, now the treasurer for the High Desert Family YMCA. "It's funny, because as soon as we started working on this, we never looked back, but just forged on ahead."

And they had forged on together.

"There's no other person in this world that I would have rather gone through this with other than my friend Kim," Markham said. "Most people will say 'that sounds like a good idea, good luck with that.' Kim was one of the only people where you knew it was going to happen."

The High Desert Family YMCA office is at 9608 I Ave., unit D5. Call 948-7244 for more information.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.