Q&A with Dow Bay Area Family Y Director Steven Krankota

Steve Krankota began as CEO of the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA at 225 Washington Ave. in December 2021. When the YMCA Board announced his appointment, they cited Krankota’s experience in Metro Detroit, including community outreach and high membership satisfaction scores.

During the summer, anyone under 18 is invited to take advantage of a meal program.Question: You’ve been at the Dow Bay Area Family Y for six months now. What are your plans for the next few years?

Answer: The plan is always to provide the best experience for our members, staff, and volunteers. I think we do a good job now, but we have some areas we can improve on. A big goal of mine is to expand our programming to reach more families and youth so we can serve as many people as possible.

Throughout the year, sports teams use the Y’s facilities to play games and to learn from more experienced athletes.Q: How are you and your family liking Bay City?

A: We love it! It’s been a nice change of pace for us and everyone has been so welcoming. It’s been especially nice since the weather has warmed up and we have started visiting some of the small towns, beaches, and shops. I am extremely impressed with how supportive this community is about our YMCA. It’s really nice to hear all the stories and dedication people had to make this facility possible.

Q: At your last job in Mount Clemens, you earned a reputation for building relations between the YMCA and the community. Can you tell us about plans for community partnerships here?

A: A big part of building community partnerships is making the community aware that you are open for collaboration and want to help them as much as we can. We have a beautiful facility and our doors are open to help and serve other organizations in our area. We are also in the process of identifying service clubs in the area and making sure the Y is represented as much as possible.

Q: When will the new park near Uptown Bay City open? What facilities are planned there?

A: We are so anxious to get this park open – however there have been a lot of moving parts but nothing has been possible without patience and teamwork from everyone involved. The space will be open to the community and most likely will be open the same hours as our facility hours. We will have two 3v3 basketball courts, two dedicated pickle ball courts, and a large space so we can expand our programming.

Superheroes took over the Y facility one day this summer.Q: The YMCA mission has always gone beyond physical fitness. During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dow Y closed its doors, but continued serving the public. You provided food, outdoor exercise classes, and a safe place for kids to learn. In 2021, the Bay City Y was one of nine in the state to earn a Hometown Health Hero Award from the state Department of Health and Human Services. Did any lessons learned during the pandemic change what how you do business now?

A: When people think of our YMCA, they often focus on the amenities of our building, the “gym and swim,” but we are so much more than that. Although our facility doors were closed to the public, our areas of focus remained unchanged: to strengthen the foundations of our community through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

Staying true to our mission and cause, we were able to focus on community needs at the time like providing remote learning support and essential childcare, virtual and outdoor classes, serving meals and snacks outdoors. Collaboration was also key as we sought out funding sources and ways to serve our community. Partners like the Bay Area Community Foundation, United Way of Bay County, Hopevale Church, Jet’s Pizza-Bay City, Hidden Harvest, State Theater, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, and other local partners helped to provide much needed resources and space to help with community needs at the time.

The YMCA encourages people to try new sports.We applied for government funding opportunities like PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) when we were able to help support operations and staff. We also engaged peer networks with other YMCAs in Michigan and other states to share ideas of ways to help our communities. Donors, volunteers, and our amazing YMCA employees were willing to step up and serve when our community needed it most. The pandemic may have physically separated us, but also ironically proved that no one accomplishes anything alone.

Q:  Nationally, Michigan ranks high for health problems such as obesity and mental distress. What is the Y doing to build a healthier community?

A: Mental health is so important right now. We live in a world where everyone can be so divided on everything and we are working every day to provide our community with safe place to just enjoy themselves. Our goal is that we can give everyone the ability to take a breath, enjoy their yoga class or simply swimming with their kids and view us as an escape.

Summer camps at the YMCA aren’t all fitness focused. Q: What’s something about the Y that you wish more people knew?
A: We can never talk about our mission enough and serving families. Last year we served 61,630 meals, 693 kids learned water safety, 337 families received assistance to join the YMCA, and 200 kids were served in our child care programs. None of that is possible without the support of our members and donations to our Annual Campaign give us the ability to make sure everyone has the chance to belong.
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Read more articles by Kathy Roberts.

Kathy Roberts, a graduate of Central Michigan University, moved to Bay City in 1987 to start a career in the newspaper industry. She was a reporter and editor at the Bay City Times for 15 years before leaving to work at the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Covenant HealthCare, and Ohno Design. In 2019, she returned to her storytelling roots as the Managing Editor of Route Bay City. When she’s not editing or writing stories, you can find her reading books, knitting, or visiting the bars of Bay County. You can reach Kathy at editor@RouteBayCity.com