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‘Sanctuary for families,’ YMCA kicks off 2011 campaign

BRADENTON -- Patricia Adams, Michael Kreminiski and Kevin Robinson don’t know each other, but they have much in common.

They’re parents trying to provide a stability for their families in difficult times.

They have something else in common, too.

The Manatee County YMCA.

They were present at Miller’s Dutch Kitchen on Thursday morning to speak in support of the nonprofit’s 2011 “One Y For All” annual campaign.

It funds scholarships to enable people to participate in the Y’s various family programs -- i.e,, athletics, daycare, fitness -- even when they can’t afford it.

People like Adams, Kreminiski and Robinson.

“If not for the scholarship I don’t know where I’d be,” said Adams, 34, a single mother raising her two children and her sister’s five, as well.

They’re at the Bradenton YMCA daily.

“The second we step in the door, we are embraced,” Adams said. “The kids go to their friends and they’re safe.”

Same at the Parrish YMCA, Kreminiski said.

“It’s been a Godsend for me and my family,” said the 40-year-old, who moved here for a sales job and got laid off. “When the kids are making you nuts and you don’t know how you’re going to make it through the next day, it was nice to know we always had the Y.”

Robinson echoed the sentiment.

A Lakewood Ranch husband with children ages 2, 4 and 6, he’s working part-time at a Sarasota restaurant by day. His wife works at a Bradenton restaurant by night.

“It’s been tumultuous the past 18 months,” said Robinson, 37. “We’ve gone through four, five changes trying to make ends meet, multiple jobs.

“But the one constant was the Y, something stable for the kids. To go swimming, learn competition, dedication, perseverance, all the things you want to really teach them as a father.”

Robinson spoke with a heartfelt emotion that mirrored the other speakers and made for a riveting breakfast.

“This is YMCA 101, why we’ve been around for 170 years,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Sean Allison.

The Y serves 15,000 in Manatee County and the Bradenton branch was the most generous, giving $250,000 in scholarships last year.

“We never want to turn them away,” said Adam Schrott, the branch director. “We help families, kids, seniors and teens, whether they can afford anything, to give them an opportunity to have the Y experience, something positive in their life.

“We get people who are unemployed, got nowhere to go, who want to cancel. We tell them, ‘Don’t. We’ll work it out. Your family needs to be here.’ ”

His words, and those of the morning’s speakers, resonated with a new board member, Bill Galvano.

“The extent of the impact the Y has on families continues to be an education for me,” said the former state representative. “It’s quite literally a sanctuary for a lot of families.”

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.