After injuries she received in boot camp prompted early medical retirement, former Army Staff Sgt. Kim Davenport had no choice but to seek physical therapy from civilian outlets.
To her amazement, Davenport discovered she didn’t have the same emotional and financial support she enjoyed while on active duty. Worse, her son Austin, 6, was diagnosed last year with Sensory Processing Disorder, a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to sensory information.
Because she no longer had access to military recreational facilities, Davenport enrolled Austin in community-related sports programs to keep his mind active. When she exhausted her savings, Davenport approached the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region to work out an arrangement.
To her surprise, the YMCA’s Southeast Family Armed Services Center, through its involvement with the Empty Stocking Fund, arranged for Davenport, Austin and her daughter Taylor, 11, to receive discounts for using the recreational facilities. “The YMCA has shown Austin he has the same opportunity as other kids whose parents have money,” Davenport said.
The YMCA is one of 20 Colorado Springs agencies that assists people in need and in achieving self-sufficiency. In particular, the YMCA serves enlisted military families with crisis prevention and stress reduction.
Through its involvement with the ESF, the YMCA works to provide recreation and human services to the community. The organization provides low-cost or free memberships and programs for families of deployed military, offers programs and classes on budgeting, parenting, healthy cooking and wellness.
The YMCA also partners with military morale, welfare and recreation programs and other agencies to help military families overcome the stress of military life.
Through the ESF, the YMCA has assisted more than 4,000 families since opening its Southeast Family Armed Services Center in 2002, said Military Outreach Director Drew Aquino.
The YMCA has assisted many military families, particularly children whose parents are deployed for long periods of time, Aquino said.
“Our signature Operation Kid Comfort project has allowed military children to receive a free quilt pillow with their deployed parent’s picture on it, helping them overcome the separation anxiety,” Aquino said.
The most rewarding aspect of the YMCA working with the ESF is seeing two entities come together to service the community, bringing people together, improving the lives of others and making a positive difference, Aquino said. “El Pomar and the ESF help make life easier for our military and Kim is a great example of that partnership,” Aquino said.
The YMCA seeks volunteers to help make a positive difference, said Director Boyd Williams. Whether its coaching, mentoring or assisting at a Military Outreach Event, volunteers are the most important people in our organization to accomplish our Y mission and help make a positive influence in another person’s life, Williams said.
“We’re 10 YMCAs that fund the position of military outreach director and we attribute that to the funds we receive through the ESF,” Williams said. “It truly is a community effort. We love getting up every day. It’s a good time to be here and we couldn’t do what we do without assistance from the ESF. They’re incredible.”