FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - When most people think of the YMCA they think athletic programs and inexpensive hotels. The Armed Services YMCA has a different purpose. There are no gyms or swimming pools, but they do offer a variety of programs to improve the quality of life for active duty military personnel and their families.

"We are here to serve those who serve America" said Melanie Terrill, office manager of the ASYMCA at Fort Wainwright.

Since 1861 the ASYMCA has been serving the military by providing programs that improve the quality of life by offering support to communities and families. Terrill said the primary focus group is junior enlisted personnel, but no one is denied services.

The presence of the ASYMCA in Fairbanks is obvious as soon as a Soldier arrives. The military courtesy lounge in the Fairbanks airport provides a comfortable place to wait for a ride to post.

If a Soldier has arrived at Fort Wainwright, but his wheels have not, he might want to take advantage of the Y on wheels shuttle service. It provides door-to-door transportation for $1 a person anywhere on the installation. The shuttle is one of the Y's most used programs and it is recommended that those needing a ride call up to 24 hours in advance.

For a family on a budget the ASYMCA can help stretch those hard-earned dollars.

The thrift shop recently re-opened and is currently offering a sale on all winter gear. If you would prefer to think about warmer weather, anything from household goods to clothes for kids can be found there. It also offers a place to get rid of all those things that don't need to make the move when PCSing.

Want to go to the hockey game, but don't want to pay full price for the tickets' The ASYMCA offers Ice Dog tickets at a discount.

Taking a family to the movies can be an expensive venture. The ASYMCA has free tickets to the AAFES movie theater at Eielson Air Force Base. Fifteen tickets are available at the Fort Wainwright office each month on a first-come, first-served basis.

Financial problems are not the only challenges faced by military families. Sometimes children struggle academically because of the stress of military life. Operation Hero, a program offered at the Arctic Light Elementary School, is a 10-week after-school program to help them get back on track. Children work with a facilitator on lessons to help them learn skills to cope and to be successful, both in and out of the classroom.

For families whose kids are not yet in school, child care for a parent's medical appointment can be hard to find. No need to look any further. The Teddy's Child Watch is located at Bassett Army Community Hospital and is designed to be a safe place for parents to leave their children while they are at a doctor's appointment. Children can be dropped off by appointment at Teddy's Child Watch during hospital hours, and can be left there for up to two hours. Children are entertained with cartoons and toys while mom or dad is away.

Terrill said that plans are underway for the annual Father-Daughter Ball May 22 at the Westmark Hotel Gold Room. Tickets will be available later this month on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost is $10 for the first couple and $5 more for each additional daughter.

If you have time to share, the ASYMCA can find a job for you to do. Programs such as the Snack Attack, Teddy's Child Watch and the thrift shop are always in need of volunteers. For information on how you can get involved or to find out more about ASYMCA programs call 353-5962.

Page last updated Thu April 15th, 2010 at 13:28