MARYSVILLE — The Marysville Family YMCA's Military Family Night on Saturday, Nov. 16, drew an estimated 50 people over the course of the evening, roughly the same as last year's event, but Allison Hoot, youth and family coordinator for the Marysville Y, is already hoping to attract at least 100 people for next year's event.
As part of the YMCA of Snohomish County's Military Family Month in November, the Marysville Y building opened its doors exclusively to military families from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Nov. 16, and treated them to activities ranging from sit-down family dinners to free-for-all dodgeball, as well as time in the Y's "Adventure Zone," which comes equipped with an elaborate indoor jungle gym. While local Girl Scouts supervised the making of crafts, the Arlington High School Robotics Team treated attendees to an exhibition of their competition robot for this year, albeit not without some delays.
"I know the robot was a bit problematic at first," Hoot said. "It took a break for a little bit, but came back strong. The kids had a great time driving it, as well as chasing the other kids down around the basketball court. Dinner turned out great, thanks to a large group of probably about 25 volunteers who helped to set it up, serve it and clean up after it, all while making sure our guest families were taken care of."
"It's nice that they do this," said Joshua Williams, an 11-year Navy veteran who just arrived in Washington state a few months ago, and has quickly come to appreciate his more generous work schedule at Naval Station Everett. "It's the difference between working nine or 10 hours a day here, versus the 15 hours a day I was working before. It gives me more time to spend with my family, which is good, because both our girls love me, and they're getting to the age where they want to do more stuff with me."
Brandon Lang has only had his own wife and kids for the last few of the 17 years he's served in the Army, but now that he's one of the active-duty personnel stationed at the Marysville Armed Forces Reserve Center, he's taking as much advantage as he can of his own off-duty time to bond with his family through activities such as the Y's Military Family Night.
"My wife and I do everything with the kids, and for the kids, as much as we can," said Lang, who had to say goodbye to one of his children after their first birthday, so he could serve in Afghanistan for the following year. "This is all really awesome. I just wish it was advertised more. I'm never going to complain when I get free food," he laughed.
Hoot echoed Lang's suggestion by pledging to recruit more military families into not only next year's event, but also other Marysville YMCA events in the meantime.
"With the Nimitz, the Shoup and other Navy boats coming back over the next couple of months, we hope to plan a date night, where moms and dads can go out and get reacquainted, while their kids play at the Y," said Hoot, who promised to release more details on that event shortly. "We're always looking for more ideas on how to serve our military community."
Those who wish to give feedback or suggest activities should contact Hoot by phone at 360-651-1607 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Marysville Family YMCA's Military Family Night was funded through a partnership with the Armed Services YMCA, which provides free and low-cost youth development, healthy living and social responsibility programs for junior enlisted military members and their families, to make military life easier.