Armed Services YMCA supports Army mission

| June 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — ASYMCA preschool teacher Brianna Perez reads to students in one of the classrooms at the Wheeler branch of the ASYMCA on Monday, May 5. (U.S. Army photo by Karen A. Iwamoto, Oahu Publications)

Karen A. Iwamoto
Staff Writer

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — On a recent sunny summer morning, a handful of children were playing in the Armed Services YMCA’s courtyard, here.

After about an hour of hula hooping, tossing balls and playing on the jungle gym, they lined up and made their way inside one of the classrooms for story time and to share highlights from their morning.

“What was your favorite part of the day?” Brianna Perez, their preschool teacher, asked when they were all seated and settled in the reading area.

“Playing outside!” said 4-year-old Andrew Severin.

“The fish!” said 4-year-old Jeremiah Haten, pointing to the marine-themed decorations on the wall.

“Jeremiah!” said 4-year-old Ava Wilkins, wrapping her classmate in a hug.

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Leona Southward, 4, is chased by Andrew Severin (in blue), 4, and Landon xxxx, 4, during outdoor playtime at the Wheeler branch of the ASYMCA on Monday, May 5. (U.S. Army photo by Karen A. Iwamoto, Oahu Publications)

This summer program for preschool-age children provides an affordable child care option for Army families who are looking to socialize their children and give them an early start on their education.

“I feel like preschool options in Hawaii are really limited,” said Stephanie Severin, Andrew’s mother and an Army spouse whose background is in children’s education. “I was on the wait list for the Child Development Center for a year and had even started looking into private preschools off-post, but they were really expensive, so I was glad when there were openings here.

“I really like it, especially the Parent Participation Preschool program because it let me be there with him and help him transition into preschool. I feel that made for a good transition.

“He’s made a lot of friends here,” she added, “and so have I. There are a group of us parents whose kids have moved up through the classes together, and we’re friends outside of class.”

This is exactly the role that the ASYMCA of Honolulu was created to fill, said Faith Carrabis, ASYMCA of Honolulu’s outreach director.

“The military does a good job of taking care of its people, but it helps to have other organizations step in and fill in needs as they arise,” she said. “We make sure that we provide services that meet our families’ needs.

“We create a family when some of us have no family here,” she added. “We become each other’s family.”

For the past 100 years, the Armed Services YMCA of Honolulu has been supporting military families with services and programs aimed at making their lives easier. It is not a government-funded organization, but a private nonprofit that relies on individual and corporate donations to sustain its mission of supporting military families.

In 2016, the ASYMCA of Honolulu enhanced the lives of 49,421 service members and families on Oahu, according to its 2016 annual report. Over the years, it has continued to expand its program offerings, including introducing low-cost summer camps and robotics camps.

Its 1,230 volunteers provided 4,358 hours of service in 2016, which translates to roughly $102,674.48, according to the annual report.

In addition to its regular and summer preschool programs, it provides a Children’s Waiting Room at Tripler Army Medical Center and the U.S. Army Health Clinic at Schofield Barracks. Parents can drop their children off while they attend a medical appointment.

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Andrew Severin, 4, and others push Leona Southward, 4, in a Little Tikes pushcar during playtime at the Wheeler branch of the ASYMCA on May 5, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Karen A. Iwamoto, Oahu Publications)

New family support

Therese Szatkowski, director of the Wheeler Branch of the ASYMCA, said this service is especially helpful for those who are new to the island and far away from their family support systems. She was one of those people when she first moved to the island with her husband and young son only to find that she was pregnant with their second child. She found herself wondering who could watch her son while she attended her doctor appointments.

“With (the Children’s Waiting Room) you don’t have to worry about who’s watching your child because they’re all professionals; they’ve all been through background checks,” she said.

She said the best part of working for the ASYMCA is knowing that she is giving back to the Army community.

“I’m an Army spouse myself and I understand the struggle they face,” she said. “I feel like our programs give parents a place to build relationships and establish friendships that continue outside of the YMCA. It’s a place to connect and build community.

“Being able to give back and support other military spouses is the most meaningful part of the job to me,” she added. “It’s great to be able to help out that parent who can’t afford a full day of preschool, or the single Soldier who has two kids and needs support with her children.”

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — The Wheeler branch of the Armed Services YMCA is seeking donations of rice, pasta, cereal, crackers, powdered milk and boxed juices for its food pantry. The YMCA estimates that over 20 military families a month rely on the food pantry. (Courtesy photo)

ASYMCA seeks food donations

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — The Armed Services YMCA, here, is seeking community donations of canned goods for its Food for Families program.

The ASYMCA supports the Food for Families program through food pantries at its Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Wheeler locations.

Over 20 families a month rely on the food pantry at the Wheeler branch, said Therese Szatkowski, the branch’s director.

The Wheeler food pantry, located on site, provides emergency food and groceries for Soldiers and family members in need – at no cost and with no questions asked.
The staples in the pantry are especially helpful to young Soldiers with young children to support, Szatkowski added.

She said that she currently has enough canned vegetables to meet the demand of her clients and is asking for donations of the following non-perishable items:

•Powdered milk,
•Mac’n’ cheese,
•Juice boxes and
•Baby food.

By donating, you are helping the ASYMCA fulfill its mission of serving the families of those who serve the nation.

Courtesy photo

Programs and Services

The ASYMCA provides the following to help Hawaii’s military families.
For more information, contact the Wheeler branch of the ASYMCA at 624-5645.

Children’s Waiting Room
Parents in need of a safe and professional environment for their children while they attend medical appointments can turn to this service, available at Tripler Army Medical Center and the U.S. Army Health Center-Schofield Barracks. Reservations strongly recommended. Call 433-3270 (TAMC) and 433-8410 (USAHC-SB).

Early Learning Readiness
A precursor to preschool, this program offers two-hour structured learning for babies to 5-year-old children and their caregivers.

Father/Daughter Dance
This social event strengthens the bond between fathers and their daughters by providing an elegant evening of dinner and dancing. This year’s event is scheduled for October.

Food for Families
The ASYMCA of Honolulu provides free emergency food and groceries via the food pantries at its three branches.

Operation Holiday Joy
This program provides commissary gift cards and food items to help military families have Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Home School Program
This educational service supplements the education of home-schooled children. Each child is guided, supported and encouraged to work at their own pace.

Operation Hero
First-to-sixth graders experiencing challenges at school get one-on-one after school tutoring and mentoring that promote social responsibility through team-building activities.

Operation Kid Comfort
ASYMCA of Honolulu volunteers make custom-made quilts and pillows for children whose military parents are deployed. The quilts and pillows are designed with photos of the children’s deployed parents.

Parent Participating Preschool
This program allows parents to work alongside their child’s preschool teacher to help their child transition into a structured learning environment with their peers.

Playmorning Program
This program is for infants to 5 year olds and promotes social skills, literacy, creativity and motor skills.

Educational and Summer Camps
These are hosted several times a year. Contact the ASYMCA for more information.

Special Events
Additionally, the ASYMCA also hosts mother/son events, Healthy Kids Day activities, Military Child Day celebrations, Easter events, Kids in the Kitchen classes, Cookies with Santa, Mother’s Day teas and other activities throughout the year.

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Category: Community

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