Media Coverage

Fort Campbell Armed Services YMCA Plays Santa for Troops

Posted with permission from Leaf-Chronicle

Fort Campbell Armed Services YMCA Plays Santa for Troops

With help from generous donors, organization gives in many ways

By Philip Grey, Leaf-Chronicle

December 18, 2012

Courtesy of Philip Grey/Leaf-Chronicle
Courtesy of Philip Grey/Leaf-Chronicle

FORT CAMPBELL, KY. — When it comes to soldier and family support on Fort Campbell, the Armed Services YMCA may not come immediately to mind, but it should.

There are few organizations dedicated to helping the troops that do so much in such a variety of ways, year-round. However, at Christmas, they go above and beyond to ensure lower-ranking enlisted soldiers and their families have a happy holiday.

At their Reed Avenue location, just past the shopette at Reed and Bastogne Avenues, the YMCA building has been filled to overflowing – literally – with high-quality books, games and toys, to include a large selection of bicycles. All of it is destined for 400 military children of families identified by Fort Campbell units as perhaps needing a little help this year.

Much of what is on hand was donated through the generosity of Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, where the families of students gave generously to make this year’s Christmas Assistance program, which runs until Dec. 21, one of the best ever, according to ASYMCA director Shirley West.

“Our mission is to support the soldiers,” said West, “and what better time than Christmas-time?”

Help from friends

West also credited a few other “angels” who contribute greatly to her mission to enhance the lives of Fort Campbell military families.

“The 101st Airborne Association is a huge supporter of ours,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to keep our doors open.

“They help us out with our summer camps and also fund a lot of our programs throughout the year. We also get United Way funds, which helps greatly since we’re not government-supported except for the fact that they give us our building to operate in.”

The ASYMCA also has the generous support of volunteers – mostly soldiers and spouses – who donate time to help West and her staff run the youth summer camps and the many programs at the main building, as well as at the Backdoor Boutique.

Eight volunteers spent an entire day helping to unload the two truckloads of Christmas donations from Christ Presbyterian Academy, and volunteers from the Officer and Enlisted Spouses Clubs helped to set everything up.

“If it wasn’t for the volunteers,” said West, “we couldn’t do this.”

Enhancing military life

Beyond the summer camps and Christmas Assistance, the ASYMCA has play groups for children every day, a Bible study once a week, dinners and breakfasts once a month, an after-school mentoring program for all six of Fort Campbell’s elementary schools and a part-day daycare for children of enlisted soldiers.

“Also,” said West, “we try to help out people who have financial needs that can’t get help from Army Emergency Relief.”

Then there’s ASYMCA’s Backdoor Boutique, where soldiers in the ranks of E-5 and below can come once a week to shop for canned and boxed food items and baby supplies.

“They get to take anything that we have in the store,” said West, “and they get a carry-out item and a big bag once a week to take home to their family.

“We also have a room in the same facility where we loan out gowns and suits for formal occasions. All we ask is that they dry-clean the items before returning them.”

The ASYMCA also buys a gift for each and every baby born at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, which averages 200 births per month.

For a complete listing of all programs and services, visit the Armed Services YMCA of Fort Campbell Facebook page.

To donate or to volunteer, contact the ASYMCA by writing to P.O. Box 629, Fort Campbell, Ky., 42223 or call Shirley West at 270-798-3077.

December 18, 2012

Local Teens Will Serve in Senegal through YMCA

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July 19, 2012

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June 28, 2012

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June 15, 2012

Nearing 90 and Still in the Swim

A volunteer swim instructor at the Roseburg YMCA has taught generations of children how to swim during the last 42 years, with no signs of slowing down

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June 11, 2012

Elderly woman in pool with toddler teaching him to swim

Nearing 90 and Still in the Swim - Courtesy of the News Review

Nearing 90 and Still in the Swim

Written by INKA BAJANDAS, The News-Review (Republished Courtesy of The News-Review)

© Courtesy of MICHAEL SULLIVAN / The News-Review
photo: Courtesy of MICHAEL SULLIVAN/The News-Review

Eight babies in bathing suits lined up along the pool wall kicked the water with help from mothers and grandmothers and the enthusiastic encouragement of swim instructor Peggy Konzack.

“Kick, kick, kick,” she prompted the young ones. “Good splashes.”

After they churned up the chlorinated water, Konzack gave each baby a ride around the shallow end of the warm pool at the Central Douglas County Family YMCA.

“Are you a happy girl?” she asked a toddler before guiding the girl on her belly through the water.

The infant swim class is one of many Konzack has led. In 42 years as a volunteer swim instructor at the Roseburg YMCA, she’s taught generations of children how to swim.

On Sunday, Konzack will celebrate her 90th birthday. She says she has no plans to quit teaching anytime soon, and that swimming six days a week keeps her healthy and fit.

Konzack, who over the years has given swim lessons to infants through adults, now exclusively teaches the youngest of swimmers. Twice a week, she spends her mornings getting babies and 3-year-olds comfortable in water. She’s taught so many children that these days it’s not uncommon for second generations to pass through her classes, Konzack said.

“They’re all dear to me. I get attached to them,” she said. “I have lots of pictures, lots of scribbly notes, thank-yous that kids have given to me.”

When she’s not teaching, Konzack, a regular swimmer since high school, can still be found at the YMCA swimming laps. While she swims, her husband of 69 years, Clayton, works out in another part of the Y.

“I’m here every day,” Konzack said. “This is my second home, and I really appreciate being able to do this for the Y. There are so many lovely people. I have some dear friends.

“I’m so old I’m a mother to most of these people here.” As a volunteer swim instructor, it’s especially worthwhile teaching children water safety, Konzack said.

“At some time or another (everybody) will have to encounter water,” she said. “That’s what I like the best. I’m helping them to maybe save their lives.”

Recently, one of her students, a 2-year-old, fell into a reservoir, Konzack said. Thanks to swim lessons, he calmly paddled his way out, she said.

“It didn’t bother him,” Konzack said. “He didn’t panic because he was used to the water.” Konzack has been volunteering at the YMCA for so long that when an employee tried to look up her file recently she didn’t have one.

“They said, ‘You don’t have a file,’” Konzack said. “I said, ‘No, I never filled out an application.’ ”

Konzack started volunteering after she went to the tot swim class with a friend who had a baby. A mother of two adopted daughters, Konzack was looking for something to fill her time after they left home.

Konzack recalls the instructor was so impressed with her she asked Konzack to teach the class when she couldn’t anymore. A note from that swim instructor asking Konzack to take over more than 40 years ago was the closest she came to filling out an application.

“I still have that note,” Konzack said. “It’s in my file.”

The YMCA has changed a lot since she started volunteering there, Konzack said.

“I’ve seen the Y grow from a family to a big business,” she said. The Y only had one pool when she started, Konzack said. She remembers when the roof collapsed into that pool sometime in the 1980s.

“It pushed the water right out the front door,” she said. “I’m thankful it was at 10 o’clock at night and not at 10 o’clock in the morning. I wouldn’t be here.”

On the YMCA pool deck, Konzack is a recognizable face.

“I want to be like you when I’m 90,” a woman climbing the ladder out of the lap pool said to Konzack.

Konzack said she’s gotten used to such remarks. “I’ve had more people that come up to me and say, ‘You’re my role model,’ ” she said.

Regular exercise and a healthy diet keep her young, Konzack said.

“I’m vegetarian, I don’t smoke — I don’t even drink colas,” she said. Swimming at the Y also often washes away her worries, Konzack said.

“This has been my outlet,” she said. “Sometimes I come in here stressed out and the minute I dunk my head under the water, it’s just great.”

Denise Dammann of Roseburg has had a kid in one of Konzack’s classes for the past five years. Recently she brought her 2-year-old daughter, Hannah, to Konzack’s infant class. Dammann said she appreciates that Konzack teaches such young children water safety and how to go underwater.

“She’s got a real way of teaching babies to do that,” Dammann said. “She’s really wonderful with them. A real blessing to have.”

YMCA aquatic instructor coordinator Jeanette Dever said Konzack has just the right touch when it comes to teaching children to swim.

“She’s patient, but makes sure that they do what they’re capable of doing,” she said. “Boy, I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

The YMCA plans to host a birthday party for Konzack at 10 a.m. Tuesday and to honor her for volunteering for 42 years, Dever said.

“We have to make sure she knows this is not a going-away party,” she said. The children are what keep her coming back, Konzack said.

“I can’t keep from kissing them. I kiss their feet, I kiss their hands and then put them in the pool,” she said.

After more than 40 years, she said she can’t see herself leaving that behind anytime soon.

“I’d like to go to 50 or 100. That would be unheard of,” Konzack said, laughing. As long as her health cooperates, she sees herself as a regular fixture at the YMCA.

“I’m going to keep going until I can’t make it,” she said. “I always say, ‘You can wheel me over in a wheelchair and dump me in the water, and I’ll teach those babies.’ ”

June 11, 2012

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February 17, 2012

Group of kids holding up a banner (illegible)
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February 06, 2012

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