By Mr. Randy Tisor (IMCOM)May 15, 2009
FORT CARSON, Colo.-The Southeast Family Center YMCA on Jet Wing Drive in Colorado Springs opened it doors May 7 to show their appreciation for the area's military spouses. Support groups from Peterson Air Force Base and Fort Carson joined local vendors for several hours of pampering the crowd of mostly female attendees. All of the events and services were offered freely to the spouses.
Vendors offered haircuts and hairstyling as well as manicures, massages and crafts. Air Force Family Readiness Centers and Fort Carson's Army Community Services, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and Wellness Center offered information on their services as well.
Wendy Brez, director of marketing and communications for the YMCA, said the YMCA has been hosting similar events for military spouses for approximately the past eight years.
"It's just something we like to do so we can say 'thank you' to the military Families," Brez said. "We realize it's more than just the Soldier that's out there. The Families makes a lot of sacrifices, too."
Brez estimated the crowd of military spouses at 400-500 and estimated the number of volunteers at nearly 100. She included the numerous vendors and military community representatives in the number of volunteers.
Volunteers were eager to support the event, Brez said, because many of them had witnessed how volunteer work had positively impacted military Families. "There are more volunteers willing to help out and chip in to give back to our military Families," she said.
Getting military Families connected to their community, Brez said, is an important part of taking care of them.
"They come to the (YMCA), get involved in our activities and can meet new friends," she said.
Nancy Huntress, an Army spouse whose husband is currently deployed to Afghanistan, appreciated the event as a day to get away from home and relax.
"This is awesome," Huntress said. "I'm glad that they're doing something for the spouses. It's great to have us acknowledged."
Huntress already had a massage and was on a waiting list to have her hair cut. She was on another list for a cosmetic makeover after that.
Russ Brinker, military outreach director for the Southeast Family Center YMCA, considered the event for military spouses a total success in terms of variety and quality of vendor offerings as well as the number of spouses attending the event. He noted that the event was a lot bigger overall than the previous year's appreciation day.
"I think the word got out a little bit better...with the help of ACS from Fort Carson and the Airmen Family Readiness Centers on the Air Force bases. They helped us get the word out," he said, adding, "It's just a great event."
Brinker said everything for the event was donated, even the time and talents of the various vendors. Even lunch was donated, Brinker said, due to the efforts of the Fort Carson Officers' Spouse Club's fund raising efforts.