By Mike Landers
In 2011, Newman's Own Foundation awarded the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) a $300,000 grant, facilitated by Fisher House, to serve military families through 2012.
The grant provides family support for 12,772 military families nationwide during a two-year period by offering relief with free programs, services and emergency support. The ASYMCA distributed program grants ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 to support programs at eight ASYMCA locations serving Marine and Army families. 12,772 military and their families were impacted by the generous donation from Newman's Own Foundation with program support from the Armed Services YMCA and Fisher House.
Below is just a small sample of the stories and lives of military families impacted by the grant:
Camp Pendleton ASYMCA, California
• A Marine family experienced a quarters fire on base which destroyed everything, and also took the life of their youngest daughter in the fire. Funds were used to help purchase necessary items, to provide replacement furniture and to assist them in getting their home reestablished.
29 Palms ASYMCA, California
• An Army PFC was stationed at the Marine base here and had received orders to the Joint Base Lewis- McChord in Washington. His wife was unable to accompany him to the new duty station because of pregnancy complications. The PFC reported to his duty station and was immediately informed his wife had given birth to a premature son who was in critical condition. The Comfort Fund provided the PFC with 14 days lodging near Desert Regional Hospital so he could be near his newborn son and comfort his wife during this stressful time.
Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg ASYMCA, North Carolina.
• $500 given to the spouse of an E-3 who needed extensive repairs to their only car. Spouse is employed part-time and needed transportation as well. We arranged for the garage who does work on our vehicles to lend her a car at no charge while hers was being repaired. Spouse was able to hold onto her job as a result of the assistance.
Wheeler Army Air Field and Kaneohe Bay ASYMCA, Hawaii
• On the basis of financial need we assisted 10 families with tuition assistance at Pearl Harbor and Marine Corps Base Hawaii, including two children in the Honu (Turtle) class whose father is currently deployed to the Middle East. Another set of twins benefit from this program in the Nai`a class (Dolphin). This program has been beneficial to both the children and mothers. It has eased the anxiety surrounding deployment. Attending the Nai`a class (Dolphin) will help the children in their transition to starting Kindergarten here in Hawaii or at a new duty station.
Fort Richardson and Fort Wainwright ASYMCA, Alaska.
• Financial assistance was given to support the widow of a soldier who was killed in action in Afghanistan. He was assigned to Fort Wainwright. The Army would pay for the wife to fly to Dover to claim her husband's body, but they were not willing to send an attendant to help support her and the kids during this time of extreme grief and sadness. We paid for her to have a good friend to go with her and support the spouse in addition to helping with the children while they travelled to/from Dover. Fast forward to this past semester at school, one of the son's completed our ASYMCA Operation Hero program at his school in North Pole, Alaska. The mother has continued to be grief-stricken, and has had some challenges adjusting to single-parenthood. The children have also had a hard time coping with the fact that their father is gone. The son went through the 10 weeks of Operation Hero, which was a great opportunity for him to bond with other military kids, and to have extra, positive adult interaction. At the completion of the 10 weeks, you could see the impact the class had in the smile that was across his face at graduation. His mother, our Operation Hero teacher, and his regular school teacher all commented on the positive strides he had made; academically, socially and behaviorally.
Fort Campbell ASYMCA, Kentucky
• We helped an E-3 with a family of five after his home was destroyed by fire. We helped them with food, clothing, household items and personal hygiene items. We also helped get their utilities connected at their new location. Many of the household items for their house we were able to get from the Backdoor Boutique but we had to purchase some of them to include the food.
Fort Hood ASYMCA, Texas
• The Army's largest post saw a record-high number of soldiers commit suicide during the last three years, despite a mental health effort aimed at reversing the trend. Fort Hood now has one of the largest counseling staffs in the Army with over 170 behavioral health workers. Although this is a big step in helping the soldiers and their families to overcome their post deployment difficulties, it is still not enough. Many of the 46,500 soldiers at Fort Hood have served in war zones several times and some are still deploying. The Army believes that problems relating to combat strains and family separation often surface during the months immediately after a soldier comes home. The Strong Bonds Program has been an invaluable asset to helping families reunite and become whole again. And, families with the greatest risk for failed relationships get the greatest benefit from participating in these retreats. In the final report on the success of the Strong Bonds Program sponsored by the Fort Hood Chaplain's Office, Chaplain Thompson states that the support they received from the Killeen Armed Services YMCA, made possible by Fisher House and the Newman's Own Foundation grant, has been invaluable, helping to support and offset the cost on more than 75 events providing ministry and support to over 3,500 soldiers and family members.
Fort Sill ASYMCA, Oklahoma
• An E4's newly born infant was having physical difficulty and was transported to a hospital in Oklahoma City. The ASYMCA provided food and gas to help with expenses during this time. Soldier's statement: Having our new baby 90 miles away in a hospital in OKC is very hard for us. We just have to see her every evening. Thanks to your help we are able to do just that! Thank you!
Free ASYMCA programs target junior enlisted and their families, who are typically younger and have more financial and emotional burdens without nearby family to assist. As of June, 2012, the entire $300,000 grant has been expended to provide relief for thousands of military and their families. Direct support has included: emergency assistance, respite for medical issues, summer camp opportunities for low income families, diapers, groceries, car repairs, emergency housing, house fires, and support for travel and respite for families of the fallen and wounded warriors.
I am thrilled with the impact that the Newman's Own Foundation support continues to make for military families. We thank our friends at Newman's Own Foundation for their generous donation, as well as the Fisher House for facilitating the Newman's Own Foundation award. We are proud to partner to make military life easier for military families through innovative programs that pay it forward and eliminate or mitigate problems before they become insurmountable.
"Newman's Own Foundation is proud to support the Armed Services YMCA," said Robert Forrester, president of Newman's Own Foundation. "During this period in our nation's history, we feel it is especially important to support organizations that serve military personnel and their families, in a way which hopefully will draw the attention of others to step forward and express their gratitude to all who serve."
The Armed Services YMCA was rated in the top 3 percent of charities nationwide by Charity Navigator in 2011. The ASYMCA makes military life easier with free and low-cost programs for nearly 500,000 junior enlisted and their families each year at 33 branches and affiliates nationwide.
The Fisher House is a unique private-public partnership that supports America's military in their time of need. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
Newman's Own Foundation turns all net royalties and profits from the sale of Newman's Own products into charitable donations. To date, Paul Newman and Newman's Own Foundation have given over $350 million to thousands of charities around the world.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski