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Since the inception of the Bradenton Yacht Club (BYC), wives of the members have always tried to make an impactful difference on the Club. In 1950 a Ladies Auxiliary was authorized by the BYC. Today’s “The Great Mates, Inc.”, a volunteer organization, has gone through several growth evolutions since it was initially formed in 1958-59 when Peggy Greenwalt presided over the first meeting of what was then called the “Galley Maids.” However, even though its name and course changed, its mission has remained pretty much the same. The organizations have been guided by a volunteer Board of Directors (BOD) that have often been led by the BYC current Commodore’s spouse.
Over the years, more than 55 different Presidents have lead the BOD. When formed, the Galley Maids primary purpose was to bring BYC women together to enjoy lunch, make new friends, improve the BYC life and have fun. They promoted and held annual sailing classes, held auctions and raffles to fund club improvements such as new furnishings for the dining and burgee rooms, and published a BYC activity newsletter for members. In the 1980’s, the Galley Maids became the “Great Mates.” The mission remained much the same with a few inclusions. Member luncheon meetings continued to be held once a month and each meeting had a topic or speaker of interest to the group.
The group began to focus on Community contributions and involvement. The organization selected one local Manatee community need annually and donated thousands of dollars to them–raised from one themed fundraiser held that year. They also continued to identify and complete BYC improvement projects such as the Gazebo construction and the Ladies Restroom renovation project.
In 2013 the Great Mates applied to become a tax exempt 501c3 public charity and in July, 2014 “The Great Mates, Inc.” were granted that status. Today, the group raises funds to award to local not-for-profit Manatee charities and scholarships for local students. Annual Galas are sponsored by The Great Mates to raise the funds. A monthly membership dinner meeting with guest speakers is held and membership is now open to spouses of our women members. Our mission still aligns with that envisioned by the original Galley Maids – that is to bring BYC women together to enjoy food, make new friends, improve the BYC life and have fun—while supporting the needs of our Community!