By Kathryn Millhorn
Abraham Lincoln desired “Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.” This memorial season, the South Sound YMCA will be honoring active duty, reserved, and retired military families with a free week of membership at their Olympia Downtown and Briggs Community locations.
The YMCA offers year-round discounts on membership for military families as well as nationally-accredited child care through the Army School-Age Program in Your Neighborhood. But November 18-23 will allow local, non-Y members military personnel full, FREE access to all the classes, programs, and equipment they offer.
Recognized in 1996 by former first lady Nancy Reagan and established by the Armed Services YMCA, November is Military Family Month. In 2009 President Obama called on “all Americans to honor military families through private actions and public service for the tremendous contributions they make in the support of our service members and our Nation.” One way to honor our soldiers and sailors is through the sense of community built at the local Y.
Whether through winter sports teams and classes, exercise and fitness opportunities, swimming, summer camps, or outside the box offerings like Youth in Government, yoga, massage, birthday parties, and parental date-nights, the South Sound YMCA can bond families in many unique ways.
The Y organization was built over a century ago on the founding belief that “Our cause defines us: We know that lasting personal and social change comes about when we all work together. That’s why, at the Y, strengthening community is our cause. Every day, we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.”
Military life can often leave families with a feeling of transience, but a nationwide system of Y’s provides comfort through familiarity and a place to bond with family and friends. The Armed Services YMCA reaches out because “with shrinking defense budgets, troop and family programs are being cut at every military installation. In close partnership with local military leaders, the ASYMCA fills the highest priority gaps with low and no-cost programs and services including childcare, hospital assistance, counseling, emergency food and clothing, education and youth and teen programs.”
South Sound YMCA President and CEO Mike West believes that “residents of Thurston County can…show support for military personnel by getting involved with the Y or other local organizations that help military families in our community.”
Anyone can join the Y thanks to various membership levels, partnerships, and financial assistance. Class schedules, times, and locations are available online or by calling the Briggs Community branch at 360-753-6576 or Olympia Downtown at 360-357-6609.
No matter what the month, military service members and their families are to be thanked, helped, and cherished; November’s Military Family Month simply provides a reminder of their strength and support.