Manatee County single mother Joanna Marines came to the Manatee YMCA seven years ago when she was seeking a role model for her young children.
It was there that she met the Rev. Jerry Parrish, who then worked with children from the Pride Park area as a Y outreach counselor.
“When I had things going on with my kids I just started calling Pastor Jerry,” Marines told an audience of roughly 200 attending the Manatee County’s YMCA’s annual Support Campaign Luncheon at Renaissance on 9th.
“I don’t know what he says to my kids but when he finishes talking to them they come home and they are good,” Marines added as the crowd laughed.
“I can’t tell you my secret,” Parrish quipped.
Marines was one of five who told stories to the crowd about the positive work that the YMCA does in the county. The campaign is to raise money to help families and children who need YMCA services but are not able to afford them, said Sean Allison, president and chief executive officer of the Manatee YMCA.
YMCA officials said they wish to continue that work and announced a goal to raise more than $500,000 in 2017.
“We do so much more than build muscle,” Allison told the crowd, adding that the Y never turns anyone away who doesn’t have the ability to pay.
The Y, which has 17,000 members and does outreach at roughly 20 locations, raised more than $400,000 last year, Allison said.
We do so much more than build muscle
Sean Allison, CEO, Manatee County YMCA
The Y’s main centers are in Lakewood Ranch, West Bradenton and Parrish.
A new ‘outreach’ branch in Pride Park
Marines’ children take advantage of new sports and other programs at the Manatee Y’s newest branch, one that officially opened two weeks ago and is named the South County Branch at Pride Park, Parrish said.
The outreach branch doesn’t have a brick and mortar building yet but will operate out of Harllee Middle School, said Parrish, who has been appointed branch executive director.
“We’re working on building a Y there,” Parrish said. “Harllee Middle School is our building. We play basketball and football there. It’s exciting to be with these kids and give them a place where they can have a football team, which the kids call The Oneco Dolphins.”
To donate call 941-798-9622 or visit manateeymca.org.