ASYMCA Hawaii celebrates 100 years of support

| August 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

Karen A. Iwamoto
Staff Writer

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — The Armed Services YMCA, here, celebrated its 100th anniversary on Thursday, Aug. 17, with food, family activities and a traditional Hawaiian blessing.

In addition to being a centennial celebration, the event was also an opportunity for the community to experience the Wheeler ASYMCA’s newly renovated facilities.

Col. Stephen Dawson, commander of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, was among those who attended. He said he was glad to be there to mark the anniversary and reflect on the YMCA’s past and future.

“Over this past century, the Armed Services YMCA has evolved to serve Soldiers, too, and their families,” said Dawson.  “This provides Soldiers a peace of mind when they deploy that their families are well cared for.”

Spiffed up
USAG-HI provided the Wheeler branch of the ASYMCA with resources to obtain new flooring and newly painted walls in both of its buildings. Funding to renovate the kitchen and bathrooms came from private donations.
The renovations cost over $100,000 and took approximately nine months to complete.

“I think (the renovations) are wonderful,” said Therese Szatkowski, branch director of the Wheeler ASYMCA. “It was a great partnership between USAG-HI and the ASYMCA and allowed us to come together to give kids and their parents a good space to experience our programs.”

Lorraine Horton, a veteran and Army spouse who has been on island for about nine months, brought her daughter, Talia Horton, to the celebration.

“It was a great opportunity for everyone to see the newly renovated buildings and we had a lot of fun,” she said. “(Talia) got to play mini-golf and jump in the bounce house and play ring toss.”

Lorraine and Talia participate in the ASYMCA’s Parent Partnership Program, which lets parents participate in preschool classes with their child. This helps the child adjust to a school environment for the first time.

“We thank all of our Wheeler families for showing their support by attending the event and are humbled by the widespread support we were shown by other community members,” said Faith Carrabis, regional director of the ASYMCA. “We look forward to another 100 years of serving Hawaii’s Army Soldiers and their families.”

Long history in Hawaii
The Armed Services YMCA traces its roots back to 1917, when the first Army Navy YMCA in Hawaii opened its doors on Richards Street in Honolulu, according to the Armed Services YMCA website. The facility included sleeping quarters for 500 men, a gym, a music room, a pool table, laundry and cleaning services and entertainment. It was estimated that more than 4,000 servicemen had passed through its doors by 1921.

In 1926, it relocated to the building that currently houses the Hawaii State Art Museum in downtown Honolulu. Like its original location, this one included sleeping areas for men, a gym, a music room, a writing room and a cafeteria. It was so popular that even when staff set up extra sleeping quarters in the gym, they couldn’t keep up with the demand.

The renamed Armed Services YMCA continued serving Oahu’s military personnel during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Carrabis noted that during this era, the ASYMCA helped service members and their families secure temporary housing when they arrived on the island.
In 1987, it moved locations again, this time opening separate branches on Wheeler Army Airfield, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

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Category: Community

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