Community Center Outreach
The Armed Services YMCA has two community center outreach locations in Hampton Roads, both in a military housing area. The community centers provide a unique outreach targeted specifically at junior enlisted military spouses and their pre-school children.
Our typical participants are non-employed spouses with 1-2 preschool children. Most are from single income earning families with one vehicle, no local family support, and little to no connections within their communities. Their low, single incomes do not allow for luxuries like gym memberships or preschool classes. Due to their junior status, military members have little control over schedules, deployments, and relocation. Additionally, longer deployment cycles have a large portion of these spouses serving as single parents without relief for extended periods of time. The lack of control & support, coupled with lack of resource knowledge leaves many military spouses feeling exhausted, isolated, and depressed.
The community centers offer a respite to these spouses in their own neighborhoods. We offer no-cost programs that encourage healthy living, education, and social connections. Our group fitness programs are particularly popular. Through aerobics, zumba, and yoga, spouses are able to let off steam and learn to relax in a healthy way. While they are learning balance, we are working with their pre-school children to teach skills that will be necessary to be ready for kindergarten. They also learn the art of interacting with other children their age. Another program that participants particularly appreciate is called “Mommy’s Time.” This provides needed respite for stressed military moms and allows them to spend 2 hours doing whatever they’d like within the building. Typically, they might work on homework as college students, do scrapbooking, sewing, or craft activities, or just simply socialize with the other adults there. Participants relate that the community centers become their family away from home and are instrumental in keeping their stress levels as low as possible.
It costs roughly $150,000 annually to fund the centers. The community center buildings are donated for our use by Lincoln Military Housing. They also contribute an annual stipend for supplies & we have some funding provided by the United Way. Our budget shortfall that we seek to meet each year is approximately $75,000. Through individual donations & business partnerships, we are able to keep these incredible programs going every year.