ST. MICHAELS — The Perkins Family YMCA Bay Hundred Senior Center, behind St. Michaels Middle High School, officially opened its doors Monday, June 10.
The 24,000-square-foot shared-use facility, which opened its doors on Friday, June 7, includes well-being programs and classes, along with activities for summer camps and intergenerational programs. The facility was named after Kay Perkins and the late Bob Perkins, board member of the YMCA of the Chesapeake.
During the ceremony, YMCA of the Chesapeake CEO Robbie Gill lit a memorial candle to honor those who have contributed their time to the YMCA, including Bob Perkins, Neil Armstrong and John Cassidy.
“This has been 12 years in the making,” Gill said. “I have been thinking (of) some folks who I wish were here tonight. I want to honor them, including Bob Perkins, who was instrumental. And John Cassidy who we have lost in the last few days. John, has been a member of the YMCA for 33 years, and has been a huge part of our family.”
A Sunday vigil was held for Cassidy who was fatally stabbed Thursday morning, June 6, in the men’s locker room at the Easton Family YMCA. Gill said an estimated 400 people come out and supported one another at Cassidy’s vigil.
At Monday’s ceremony, Rabbi Peter Hyman gave a message of the importance of a new door of opportunity opening.
“As we open the doors of this new YMCA, we pray let them be wide enough to receive all who seeks the gifts offered at this YMCA,” Hyman said. “Bless its leadership and the members.”
Bob Perkins died in St. Michaels on July 30, 2018, surrounded by his family. After retiring from Chrysler, he began a second career focusing on volunteering and serving others.
He spent three years with the Economic Strategy Institute on trade issues before moving to the Eastern Shore. the Chesapeake Maritime Museum and the YMCA of the Chesapeake, were his passions. He served both organizations as a Board Member and Chairman and continued to support their important work until his last days.
Kay Perkins said her husband would be so proud of the new YMCA, and what a great opportunity it is for the Bay Hundred community.
“He would’ve been very modest and not wanted his name on it probably, but it was his love and he worked hard to make it all happen, so I was very excited for all of us and the community because (the facility) is phenomenal,” she said. “He would be looking down and saying it is a good thing. We have an exceptionally and capable President and CEO in Robbie Gill, who saw the potential.”
Talbot County Public School Superintendent Dr. Kelly Griffith said the school system’s partnership with the YMCA has been an amazing journey. On this important day, Griffith said everybody has a shared vision to serve the community at large.
“The vision did pull everyone in this community to make this happen,” Griffith said. “We have been pulled together for the creation of this intergenerational facility that is so exciting. Talbot County Public Schools and the YMCA have worked together for over 60 years.”
Griffith added that partnerships are crucial by tackling summer learning loss by providing a program in the summer that is free five-week full day summer camping program for low-income students. Every summer, the YMCA also has a free six-week program called camp lazy days for more than 70 special needs students ages five to 21.
The Talbot County Public Schools works with the Miles River Sale Power Squadron to host a boat safety program for every sixth grade students; and the YMCA also supports student athletes by providing the use of the pool for the swim team, spring tennis team and unified sports team.
Talbot County Council President Corey Pack said that the council is grateful for the financial assistance that they have received from the community development including Block Grant Program; The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development; grant funding through The Maryland Department of Aging; and a State Bond Bill thanks to local delegation State Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore; Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Talbot; and Del. Chris Adams (R-Wicomico).
“We are stronger working together than working apart,” Pack said. “I believe that the intergenerational concept is an incredible opportunity for our community and will be beneficial for all generations to come. It will support 850 seniors in the region.”
So far, the project raised $7.2 million, and it is estimated the project will cost $7.5 million. Gill said the resources are necessary in St. Michaels because the YMCA in Easton is a central hub for children in middle and high school to hang out and participate in after-school sports programing.
“We are almost at our goal, and we plan to reach our goal through gifts,” Gill said.
Maryland State Comptroller Peter Franchot presented Kay Perkins and Gill with a proclamation for the Perkins Family YMCA Bay Hundred Senior Center in celebration of the ribbon cutting.
“With special appreciation for your commitment to provide enriching classes and physical and spiritual well-being programs allowing members to grow, to take part in new experiences, and for seniors to have a place to relax, and reconnect with friends,” read Franchot from the proclamation. “Best wishes for continued growth and success.”
During the ribbon cutting, the St. Michaels Middle High School band played the “YMCA” song and their fight song.