by Airman 1st Class Javier Alvarez
JBER Public Affairs
1/26/2016 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Armed Services YMCA has been assisting military members and their families since the days of the American Civil War.
The organization came to Alaska in 1941, and for the past 70 years the
ASYMCA has been serving the Alaska military community through its
mission of alleviating some of the stresses military life can present.
The headquarters of ASYMCA of Alaska is located on Joint Base
Elmendorf-Richardson. However, there are other locations throughout
Alaska - on Fort Wainwright and the surrounding areas, including two
military courtesy lounges at Ted Stevens and Fairbanks International
"We can be found throughout the U.S.," said Buddy Whitt, executive
director for ASYMCA of Alaska. "We work specifically with local commands
to find out what the needs are. You can go to the local ASYMCA and look
at all the programs and services offered. If you were to then PCS to
Fort Hood, Texas, and go to the ASYMCA there - there may be some
similarities, but there are things they do that we don't. It all depends
on the local need."
While the ASYMCA carries the YMCA name, there are some distinct differences in their purpose and function.
"What separates us from a traditional YMCA is our funding does not come
from any sort of membership," Whitt said. "We are not an organization
that is run by monthly fees for services. Most of what we do is free or
Offices are strategically located on or near military installations to better serve their target audience.
"[Non-military] can volunteer with us," said Kyra Mailki, ASYMCA of
Alaska program and funds development supervisor. "They can donate and
participate in those ways. But as far as services, it's only for
military members and their dependents."
The organization is largely funded through donations. And while they
have paid employees, their staff is primarily composed of volunteers.
"People will give us stuff to pass on to the military," Mailk said. "We
make sure the support that's out there, and people want to give, makes
it to the people they want to give it to."
Currently, the ASYMCA on JBER offers more than 20 programs designed to meet the needs of the local community.
"We try to address the needs that are presented to us rather than pushing needs that we think exist," Mailk said.
Some programs and services offered by the JBER ASYMCA include:
Teddy's Child Watch provides two free hours of childcare for children 6
months to 12 years at the hospital. There is a short registration
process, but the service is available to anyone with access to the
"If you have a doctors appointment and you have a little one that you
have to take with you, you're not really going to get a lot done," said
Mailki. "It can be very distracting and it can be hard to pay attention
to what the doctor has to say."
An ASYMCA Food Pantry assists military families who may be hit with unbudgeted expense during the month.
"Maybe their car breaks down and they need a couple more meals to get
through the month," Whitt said. "Or it could be someone who just
[transfer] up and they weren't ready for the expense of living in
There are many other programs and services offered by the ASYMCA such as
Y on Wheels, Operation Snack Attack and Operation Kid Comfort to name a
"We try to be helpful in multiple ways, not just getting someone who is
in trouble get through until the next week, but maybe putting them on a
path to success long term," Mailki said.
"I like to consider ourselves as hero support," Whitt said. "We have all
these heroes working, and we don't have those super powers. Our job is
to make sure our heroes and their families have everything that they
need to do their job."
Those interested in volunteering, donating or inquiring about the many
services offered by the ASYMCA can call the JBER-Elmendorf office at
552-9622. Or the JBER-Richardson office at 384-9622.