I have been a member of the Board of Management for over 30 years. During that time I have had an opportunity to work closely with the staff and volunteers of the San Diego Armed Services YMCA. They are hard-working, thoughtful, compassionate people. I have been especially honored to work on the Christmas You Missed program which recreates Christmas on July 25th for those service members and their families who were not able to spend the previous Christmas together because the service member was on a deployment. It is a heartwarming celebration to let these families know that the San Diego community appreciates the sacrifices our military members make on behalf of their country. I support the San Diego ASYMCA as a volunteer and a financial contributor.
Over 30 years ago a good friend and mentor told me about the work he was doing with the San Diego Armed Services YMCA. Since I was working with for an organization that provided financial assistance and counseling for Navy and Marine Corps families, the SDASYMCA was a perfect fit because they also provide direct services and programs to young military families. I quickly became aware of how caring the staff was at helping these families cope with the stresses of separation from their military member because of extended and multiple deployments. As a volunteer and Board member, I have seen first hand how ASYMCA programs help families with in-home counseling by trained counselors, help with gift cards for food and gas, respite child care, car seats, cribs, and diapers. They help families learn problem-solving skills and improve their marriage and parenting skills. I've been involved in other programs like Christmas You Missed that recreates Christmas Day every June 25th for families separated by deployment on the previous December 25th. Operation Hero builds self-esteem in young children faced with relocation to new schools and neighborhoods as well as coping with the absence of a parent. Operation Kid Comfort provides a personalized family quilt to every child in the family with favorite pictures of the military parent. All of these programs are free of charge. For over 30 years I've watched Executive Directors and staff members retire and move on, but the caring and exceptional skill with which the staff meets the needs of this special group of Americans never changes. It just gets better. My friend and mentor died over a year ago and the Paul Hartley Outreach Complex was named after him. I will continue on as a volunteer dedicated to making life easier for military families.
After 26 years of active duty and 12 years as a contractor on site with the US Navy overseas, I have seen tremendous support and service to military families that the Armed Services YMCA has provided around the world. Now having lived in San Diego for 6 years and been involved with the local ASYMCA, I am certain that the San Diego ASYMCA is the flagship branch of this outstanding organization. Its leadership and staff are thoughtful, sensitive, and creative. Together with their enthusiastic cadre of volunteers they provide critical support to the military men, women, and families who selflessly defend our country. The family outreach and social services that they provide to the families of active duty and deployed military members and their families should be a model for all service organizations.