Press Release | May 13, 2009

Armed Services YMCA Honors Those Who Support Military Families at 22nd Annual Recognition Luncheon

At its 22nd Annual Recognition Luncheon on Capitol Hill today, the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) presented a number of awards to outstanding individuals and programs that work to improve the quality of life for junior enlisted personnel and their families. During this heavy time of deployment, it’s important, now more than ever, to support programs that serve military families and honor individuals who work on behalf of our troops and their families.

“Today we honor those who support our men and women in uniform for the important work they do. These individuals continue the YMCA tradition of building strong kids, strong families and strong communities, enriching the quality of life for military families everyday,” said ASYMCA National Executive Director Frank Gallo, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.). “The many services and programs of support through the ASYMCA would not be possible without our volunteers, our community YMCAs and other organizations and individuals that give of their time to support our troops and their families.”

Today’s luncheon, supported by General Dynamics, featured a keynote address Admiral Kirkland Donald, USN, director or Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program NAVSEA-08. ASYMCA presented scholarships to student art and essay contest winners; Raytheon Program Achievement Awards for the best new program, most innovative program and best use of volunteers; six Community YMCA Awards sponsored by Raytheon; and the Congressional Champion Award to U.S. Representative John McHugh of New York for his work to support America’s service members and their families. Additional information on the ASYMCA awards as well as winning essays and art work are available at www.www.asymca.org.

Raytheon Program Achievement Awards

The Raytheon Program Achievement Awards honor the Best New Program, Best Use of Volunteers and Most Innovative Improvement. Raytheon provides a grant of $10,000 for the Best New Program and $4,500 to each of the other winners.

• Best New Program — Pulaski County Armed Services YMCA for its Warriors in Town, which is a community outreach program to support the Wounded Warriors assigned to the General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital’s Warrior Transition Unit. The program enables communities to embrace these heroes and offer them an opportunity to enjoy a night out with fellow Warriors, spouses, and local communities. It includes dinners and regional entertainment and sporting events.

• Best Use of Volunteers — Kitsap Family YMCA for YMCA Family Nights, which strengthen families by increasing quality time spent together. The program includes craft projects, board games, obstacle courses, sports, karaoke as well as community service. During the night, money has been raised for a participant’s cancer operation, a garden has been grown for the local food bank and books have been collected for low income students.

• Most Innovative Program — Killeen Armed Services YMCA for it’s Adopt a Fort Hood Unit, which provides morale, welfare, recreation activities and overall support for emotional well-being by building parenting skills, developing social networks for military families and introducing community resources to military parents. The program’s goal is to be the support mechanism that helps them get through the stress of deployment, family separation, homesickness, relocation adjustment and the loss of a loved one.

Community YMCA Awards

Community YMCAs often serve families of the National Guard and Reserves who frequently are not located on or near major military installations and do not have the support structure available to active duty military. For facilities that serve these and other military families in need, ASYMCA presents awards to community YMCAs across the country. These awards are also sponsored by Raytheon.

• Liberty County YMCA — Hinesville, Georgia

• Huntington YMCA — Huntington, New York

• Chippewa Valley Family YMCA — Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

• Junction City Family YMCA — Junction City, Kansas

• YMCA of San Diego County — San Diego, California

• Fountain Valley YMCA —Fountain, Colorado

ASYMCA Art and Essay Contests

Each year, the ASYMCA invites children of U.S. service members to participate in the national ASYMCA art and essay contests. While promoting reading, writing and the arts, the contest provides young people with a medium to express the emotions and unique experiences and challenges they face growing up as children in the military.

For the art contest, elementary school children from all branches of the military are invited to submit a drawing that illustrates their military family. Essay contest entries about topics related to military families are accepted from students in grades 1-12.

ASYMCA recognizes 12 art contest winners (two from each branch of service) and 14 essay contest winners (two winners from six categories based on grade, plus two awards of honorable mention for high school students). All winners receive U.S. savings bonds. All winning artwork is featured on the annual Military Family Month Poster, which is distributed to Members of Congress and the Department of Defense, and displayed publicly throughout the year.

First-place winners in grades 9-12 receive $1,000 savings bonds and second-place winners receive $200 savings bonds. In addition, $100 savings bonds are awarded to two essays of honorable mention.

ASYMCA operates more than 150 program centers around the globe. The ASYMCA has consistently provided educational, recreational, social and spiritual programs to military members and their families since the Civil War. It earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for the second consecutive year and an A- rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy. In 2008 alone, nearly 11,000 individuals nationwide volunteered their time to the ASYMCA to serve approximately 400,000 military family members. The ASYMCA, an affiliate of the YMCA of the USA, is headquartered in Alexandria, Va.

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