YMCA Celebrates Military Families with Family Portraits

16 November 2020

Last week, the YMCA of South Hampton Roads launched a mobile photo studio, capturing portrait images as a thank you to active duty YMCA members, retirees and their families. By the end of the week, the mobile studio captured photos of nearly 50 families across four of the Y’s locations in South Hampton Roads. Families were offered a chance to preregister for their session, at no cost to them.

With a renewed focus in 2020 to serve the military community in greater ways than ever before, the YMCA of South Hampton Roads recognized the additional obstacles that military service members and their families have endured this year. With COVID-19 putting tighter restrictions on these individuals and their families, this meant that, when mandates reopened the state, service members were still unable to return to most activities, including resuming their YMCA membership. These photos are a way for the Y to say “thank you” for the sacrifices these families endure as part of their duty to our country, and a way to recognize the unique and diverse stories that exist within each portrait taken.

“These individuals and their families are the epitome of the Y community—they represent diversity from all over our country, and at times from other parts of the world, joining our communities to live, work and recreate,” said Anthony Walters, President and CEO for the YMCA of South Hampton Roads. “We want them to know that we are grateful for their sacrifices, that they are a part of our Y family, and no matter where in the world they may end up next, there will always be a Y ready to greet them”.

The Y took photos of families representing every branch of the military, and had families from active duty to retiree status. Some of these families shared that they have not had their photos taken together in years, with one family sharing that this was their first family photo since the birth of their youngest child. Many shared plans that were put on hold, like many of us, due to COVID-19 restrictions, but shared an unwavering sentiment that the increased restrictions imposed recently were simply the nature of their duty to our country.