YMCA names Aquatics Center for Robbins Foundation benefactors

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Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Attendees gather for the re-dedication of the Pauline F. and W. David Robbins Aquatic Center at the Dorchester YMCA.

CAMBRIDGE—Monday evening, Nov. 23, the Dorchester County YMCA celebrated a re-dedication of the pool area of the YMCA, after extensive rehabilitation made possible by the Robbins Foundation Trust. Attending were civic leaders and friends and relatives of the Robbins family. The pool area of the YMCA was re-dedicated as the “Pauline F. and W. David Robbins Aquatic Center.”

William David Robbins and Pauline Foxwell Robbins were born and attended schools in South Dorchester. In 1953 they moved to Cambridge where Dave built their lifetime home on East Appleby Avenue. Dave, in his retirement, began the second phase of his life devoted to the stock market, where he was very successful.
The Pauline F. and W. David Robbins Charitable Foundation Trust was created following the instructions of the wills of W. David (Dave) Robbins and Pauline F. (Polly) Robbins stating that upon the death of the last survivor, the Trust was to be established. Dave Robbins died on December 9, 2008 and Polly Robbins died on July 2, 2011.

“Pauline and Dave Robbins were beloved civic leaders, small business owners,” said keynote speaker Len Foxwell, trustee of the Foundation. “They dearly loved Dorchester County. They lived simple lives, but were successful over the course of their lives. They really believed that the fruit of their labors should be reinvested in civic and community causes that could help uplift the entire Dorchester County community.

“Prior to their deaths they established a foundation that is dedicated to providing financial support for a broad range of civic and philanthropic causes,” Mr. Foxwell continued, “and this is one of the major gifts given by the family. Other causes that the Robbins have invested in are Baywater Animal Rescue, Salvation Army, Dorchester County Historical Society, and the Robbins Foundation Scholarship for deserving Dorchester County students who enrolled at Salisbury University.”

WElcoming everyone to the celebratory evening was Adam Tomey, board member and chair of the building and grounds committee for the YMCA. Other speakers included Bill Hubbard, a friend and YMCA member; Calvin Travers, a friend and colleague of Dave Robbins; and reverend Dave Wooten.

Although the pool area of the YMCA is a beautiful room of itself, the major renovation that was necessary isn’t visually obvious.

“The dehumidification unit broke down here in the pool room, way before we thought it would,” said JoAnn Hansen, CEO of the Dorchester Family Y, “but it was at the end of its useful life. Without that dehumidification system you have humidity and chlorine that collects in this room, and it creates a toxic environment. Over the winter months we were able to control it with outside air, but come spring and summer, we knew that if we didn’t get that fixed we would have to shut down the pool.”

A gift of $1.15M payable over ten years enabled the replacement of the dehumidification system on the pool but also provided desperately needed debt relief for the original loan on the pool.

“An additional community partner in this project was 1880 Bank, who was instrumental in restructuring the original loan on the pool with funds received from this gift,” continued Ms. Hansen. “The Dorchester County Family YMCA is extremely grateful for the support of the Pauline F. and W. David Robbins Charitable Foundation Trust. The very essence of this community is one built on generosity and helping your neighbor.  It’s one of the very unique characteristics of this community and one that was clearly held very dear by Pauline and David Robbins and our friends at 1880 Bank.”

“This was a hot issue in Dorchester County,” said Calvin Travers, who was in the center of the controversy when the proposal was made to turn over the old high school property to the YMCA in 1984. “I was president of the County Commissioners at the time, and not all of the commissioners wanted this property turned over to the YMCA, and I was the swing vote. I lost friends right out in this area, they wouldn’t speak to me, because I was voting to bring in the YMCA. It makes me feel good now to see all that’s been accomplished since then. Mr. Dave Robbins and I were good friends, and I’m proud to see his money being put to good use here.”

“This is an absolutely amazing night, and this facility is such a beautiful reflection of the values of which Uncle Dave and Aunt Polly lived their lives, said Len Foxwell. “The YMCA is a place where families who are too often divided by economic and social circumstances can come together as a community. It’s a place where children can feel safe and have a sense of belonging, and it’s a place where no one is ever turned away because of financial circumstances. These are values that the Robbins’ lived their lives by, and I think it’s so appropriate that their hard-earned money is being reinvested into the community in this manner.”

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