Armed Services YMCA celebrates opening of children’s waiting room
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Military parents now have a helping hand available to them for their medical appointments.
The Armed Services YMCA at 501 Clara Dr. in Copperas Cove celebrated the opening of its Children’s Waiting Room on Thursday morning. The waiting room, which is also the facility’s childcare room, provides two hours of free childcare for military parents with medical appointments.
Present for the ribbon cutting ceremony was Sheri Yerrington, executive director of the Killeen Armed Services YMCA.
“We actually launched the program on Monday, and we had children on Monday. We had a mom with three children whose husband is at training,” Yerrington told the crowd assembled for the event. “She had a doctor’s appointment on Monday, found out she had to return on Tuesday, and go back again to another appointment on Wednesday. She had three little ones, all under the age of five. She was able to come back, meet all three of her appointments, without interruption and stress-free, knowing that her children were being taken care of.”
Yerrington said the ASYMCA felt that one of the biggest areas of need was in Copperas Cove, so they decided to offer the service at that location first.
Mayor Frank Seffrood said that families can be strengthened by helping them exist as families, something that was missing in the military of yesteryear.
“You were hard-pressed to fulfill your part as a parent, when you didn’t have services to do it,” Seffrood said, calling something like the waiting room a “big leap forward.”
Armed Services YMCA CEO, Vice Admiral (USN-Ret.) William French was present for the ceremony and echoed Seffrood’s comments. French said he grew up as an “Air Force brat.”
“It really was a second thought to care for families,” French said. “The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said recently, ‘You recruit a soldier but you retain a family.’ I think that’s truly reflective of where we are today as a society.”
In addition to freeing up medical support staff from keeping children entertained at their parents’ medical appointments, the benefit of having a children’s waiting room is that the no-show rate has been reduced on average by 30 percent at facilities that have waiting rooms like this one, French said.
French also thanked interim city manager Ryan Haverlah and CCISD superintendent Joe Burns for their roles in making the room a reality.
There are eight Children’s Waiting Rooms at ASYMCA locations in the United States, and the room at the Copperas Cove facility is the only one in the Fort Hood area.
YMCA membership is not required for using the waiting room, but parents must make an appointment by phone at 254-458-1015. The room is available from 7:45 a.m. until 3 p.m. on weekdays for children six months to eight years of age.
Yerrington mentioned two upcoming programs for ASYMCA locally. Operation Hero will launch in January 2019 and involves three centers near Fort Hood campuses that will assist children and young teens with academic and social reinforcement.
Along with that program, this fall the ASYMCA is launching Operation Little Hero, a parent-child class at the Copperas Coe family center.