Armed Services YMCA Recognizes Supporting Individuals, Organizations
The Armed Services YMCA honored individuals and organizations for their support of military families in 2005 at its 19th Annual Recognition Luncheon here today.
The ASYMCA provides social and support services for military families, organization officials said. Last year alone organization volunteers logged more than 175,000 hours and served nearly 400,000 military family members.
Presenting the keynote address, Marine Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, director of operations for the Joint Staff, acknowledged the dedication of the nation’s servicemembers, “the sons and daughters and nephews and nieces of the Vietnam era.” As they come home from serving overseas, the first question on their mind is, “Is the country behind us? Does the nation support us?” he said.
“Indeed it does,” Conway answered. “There is no better organization that demonstrates that than the Armed Services YMCA.”
Drawing on his own observations while stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif., he noted some programs offered by the organization including a literacy program that provided the materials necessary for deployed parents to tape record themselves reading books for their children. The Armed Services YMCA also offers, among other programs, “Y on Wheels,” a mobile preschool offered in base neighborhoods to parents without transportation.
“First and foremost, it’s about the children,” Conway said.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who received the group’s Military Family Congressional Champions Award, agreed, saying that it’s tough being young.
“Today I’m being recognized by a group that is more relevant and more important than ever,” he said. “The hopes and dreams (of a nation) & fall on the shoulders of their young people.”
Graham said the country’s young people — “especially those in uniform” — are its “ace in the hole.”
The event also recognized the young winners of the Armed Services MCA Art and Essay Contest. The contest is open to children in grades one through 12 of active duty and retired military personnel. They were asked to submit artwork illustrating their military families or an essay about why they’re proud of their families.
Two winners were selected from each of the five services in both categories. Because of the time of year and the scattered locations of many of the winners, only two were able to attend.
Bryce Moorehouse, 11, won first place for his poster of his Coast Guard family. He said he drew the picture from a combination of posters he saw when he went to work with his mom, Lt. Cmdr. Andrea Palermo, at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington.
“I’m proud that I won and just happy,” he said about winning the contest.
Palermo has nearly 17 years with the Coast Guard and returned to active duty in the summer of 2001.
“I like that she’s in the military and she’s helping our country,” Moorehouse said about his mom.
Madeline Lathroum, 10, took first place for Navy entrants.
“I just thought of it, drawing a carrier when my dad was (deployed to) Hawaii,” Madeline said about her entry. “I was surprised. I didn’t think I’d win.”
Her dad, Navy Cmdr. John Lathroum, was pleased his daughter received the award.
“I just think it’s really nice that something like this gives her a bit of positive feedback on something she really loves to do,” Lathroum said.
All first place winners in the art contest will receive a $500 U.S. savings bond, with second place winners earning a $100 savings bond. The prizes are the same for essay contest winners in grades one through eight. Essay winners in grades nine through 12 will receive a $1,000 savings bond for first-place essays and a $200 savings bond for second-place pieces. Two $100 savings bonds will be awarded for essays of honorable mention.
The Armed Services YMCA also took the opportunity to thank several organizations and one individual for their contributions. That individual was the ASYMCA’s National Volunteer of the Year Diane Mossler, director of Government and Community Affairs for General Dynamics.
Typically the award goes to individuals who distinguished themselves over the year through service to the nation’s servicemembers and their families. This year there was a departure for a very special reason. Mossler has been the face of her company’s support for the last several years but will soon be retiring and moving to Ohio.
It was her personal interest in Armed Services YMCA programs and visits to the children of Fort Belvoir, Va., coupled with her participation in General Dynamics’ literacy programs for Washington children that earned her the award.
“It’s just age,” she said laughing. “I have been involved with the organization for about 25 years.”
Raytheon, a defense and aerospace systems supplier, also presented an award for the best new Armed Services YMCA program. That award, a financial grant, went to the Armed Services YMCA Thrift Store of Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.
The store provides reasonably priced goods and is open to military families and the civilian population that supports the military.
Other Raytheon awards went to the Pulaski County Armed Services YMCA serving Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., for the best use of volunteers; and the Armed Services YMCA of Alaska, serving Fort Richardson, for the most improved program.
Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, USMC
-By Samantha L. Quigley