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Marysville YMCA celebrates ‘Armed Forces Family Fun Day’

Bev Walker is the Snohomish County chapter director of Service to the Armed Forces for the American Red Cross, and she’s eager to make sure all military families with a deployed member have a “Flat Daddy” or a “Flat Mommy” to keep them company.   - Kirk Boxleitner
Bev Walker is the Snohomish County chapter director of Service to the Armed Forces for the American Red Cross, and she’s eager to make sure all military families with a deployed member have a “Flat Daddy” or a “Flat Mommy” to keep them company.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — One day after Armed Forces Day, the Marysville YMCA hosted an “Armed Forces Family Fun Day” May 17, tailored toward the needs of area military families.

Bev Walker is the Snohomish County chapter director of Service to the Armed Forces for the American Red Cross, which conducted the first-time event. While the evening’s activities included swimming, basketball, arts and crafts, and pizza and healthy snacks, the main features that Walker was touting, for the military families who arrived, were the “Flat Daddy/Flat Mommy” vouchers, as well as vouchers for health and safety training.

“We received a grant from the Department of Defense,” Walker said. “Part of that allows military families to buy life-size poster photos of loved ones who will be deployed. These are a $49.50 value, but the vouchers will fund the families’ purchases of them.”

While Walker was disseminating information on the vouchers, local military families were enjoying the opportunity to relax and socialize.

Petty Officer 1st Class Eddie Thompson, stationed on board USS Abraham Lincoln, has served in the Navy for 12 years. He and his wife, Haruka, live in Marysville with their two children, and they expressed enthusiasm about the event.

“It’s really cool that they got all this stuff together,” Thompson said, as his children played on an air hockey table. “Sometimes, when you hear about people protesting the military, you feel left out, but activities like this prove that there are still people who believe in the system, and their gratitude is great. It’s a nice chance to get out of the house, although I think the kids are upset that we didn’t bring their swimsuits,” he laughed.

Lisa and Marine Staff Sgt. Phillip Herrera got married a year into his military service. He’s been in nine years now, and the couple is currently living in Everett and raising a 4-year-old son.

“We’re originally from California, so we’re far from home,” Lisa Herrera said. “We saw the sign for this at Naval Station Everett. Otherwise, we would just gone to McDonald’s tonight. We hardly knew anybody here, but we’ve met other families and had a good time.”

Phillip Herrera has been deployed three times during his marriage, and his wife credits programs for military families as being one of the things that “got us through” those times spent apart.

“You try and act like you’re happy when they leave, but it’s tough,” Lisa Herrera said. “It’s great to come here and see our boy play with other kids. Our neighborhood is mostly older families, so there’s not really anyone for him to play with. This is the first time I’ve dealt with the YMCA, and they’ve been great.”

For more information, you can call Bev Walker at 425-304-4477, or e-mail her at walkerb@snohomishcountyredcross.org.

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