Primary Contacts for Operation: Military Kids in Pennsylvania:
Susan Smith: PA OMK Project Coordinator and Military Liaison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-865-2264
Bobbie Salvaterra: PA OMK Project Assistant at email@example.com or 814-865-0399
“Thank you for your time, effort, and dedication to our kids!”
“Thank you so much for everything you and so many others do.”
“You are awesome!”
These are some of the comments that OMK PA has received from families who have benefited from programs in our great state.
Check Out the 2012 PA Annual Report
Our Pennsylvania Heroes
Since September 11, 2001, over 30,000 Pennsylvania National Guard members have been deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Add to that the number of PA reservists and active duty personnel, and the number grows even higher. An estimated 32,000 + children in Pennsylvania have at least one parent currently serving in either the National Guard, Reserve, or Active Duty component of the military. In Pennsylvania, Operation: Military Kids strives to provide support to these children through various programs during this difficult time. We recognize the sacrifices these children make and want to commend them for their courage.
OMK PA has a state team with representatives from OMK’s national partners as well as representatives from the following statewide agencies: Penn State Cooperative Extension/4-H, PA National Guard State Youth Coordinator’s Office, PA Army Reserve Child & Youth Services, Carlisle Barracks Child & Youth Services, Harrisburg Army Recruiting Battalion, Family Programs, Luthercare, , Pennsylvania Department of Education, Center for Schools & Communities/Mission Homefront, Pennsylvania Child Care Association, Pennsylvania Boys & Girls Club, 911th Airlift Wing, Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, PA, Art Expression, American Red Cross, and the American Legion Auxiliary.
The PA OMK Team is made up of passionate and selfless community partners all striving to improve the quality of life for PA Military Youth. We would like to say “THANK YOU” to our community partners for all you do to show Military Youth how appreciative you are for their sacrifices.
•Carlisle Barracks Child, Youth, & School Services
•Center for Safe Schools
•Defense Logistics Agency Installation Support at Susquehanna, Child & Youth Development Services
•Easter Seals of Central Pennsylvania
•Luthercare, CCIS of Lebanon County
•Penn State Extension/4-H
•Pennsylvania Department of Education
•Pennsylvania National Guard Child & Youth Program
•Recreation, Park & Tourism Management Student Society at Penn State University
•US Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) – Pennsylvania State University
In addition to our state team, we have established OMK Regional Teams in areas of Pennsylvania with a high military child and youth population. We currently have teams established in the following areas: Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.
OMK Activities Abound!
The PA OMK Team has had great success following the Army Model for “developing the whole child.” Our goal has been a simple one-to create opportunities for children to learn and develop lifelong healthy habits and acquire the skills needed to achieve a balanced lifestyle while connecting with other children who are sharing the same experiences. We have engaged the children in a myriad of fun physical activities. Our week long residential and weekend family camps focus has been for the children and families to “connect” with other military through recreation and physical activity. PA Military Kids have gone tubing, kayaking, rock climbing, zip lining, swimming, had archery instruction and a variety of other traditional and non -traditional classes designed to build and develop leadership skills, team building , goal setting and RESILIENCY so our kids can get the very most out of their “military life” experience.
PA OMK has fostered a community spirit in many ways across the Commonwealth. In Pittsburgh our SOMK Team worked with Radio Disney and KDKA to promote education in the community for understanding the military lifestyle. In Centre County “Teens Networked with Teens” to spread the word about the challenges of being a military Child. At the “Salute to the Military Child Family Fun Fair” we had nearly 40 community organizations participate in support of military families during the Month of the Military Child kick off!
The importance of hobbies and the artistic outlet was addressed across the Commonwealth as a positive force for combating the stress of deployment and military life. The American Legion Auxiliary once again supported our Eyes of the Military Child Arts Contest and we nearly doubled the entrants from last year! We have partnered with Art Expression and Rania’s Catering of Pittsburgh and offered a “Cooking with Rania” class for our military youth.
The PA OMK Team is planning a “Back to School Night” in the Commonwealth and is a strong supporter of the Tutor.com program offered to DoD dependants getting the word out to eligible families at every opportunity. We have conducted several “Character Building” Camps and classes which were well attended. We are blessed to have Temple University Family Center on our team as they provide treatment and referral for psycho-social services for anyone who is or was attached to any branch of the military and their family members. OMK PA Harrisburg Team partnered with Temple to show a movie portraying the impact of soldier deployment on their families and its potential as a public health crisis and held a question and answer period following the movie.
OMK PA program offers the following programs:
- Hero Packs are given to school-aged military children who have a parent deployed. They are a token of appreciation for the sacrifices these children make while a loved on is deployed.
Ready, Set, Go! Training (RSG!)
- Trained individuals from around the state conduct trainings to schools, community organizations, support agencies, etc. in order to increase awareness and support that children of deployed military face.
Speak Out Military Kids (SOMK)
- New members are being recruited for the SOMK program in Pennsylvania. These youth, both military and non-military, receive training on public speaking, media equipment, press releases/written announcements, etc. In addition to having the opportunity to “speak out” on behalf of military families they also gain life-long skills and build self-confidence.
Mobil Technology Lab (MTL)
- Portable computer labs used to facilitate connection between deployed family members and children and youth left behind. Labs contain laptops, printer/scanner, wireless router, digital camera, camcorder, and various hardware and software. Please contact OMK in Pennsylvania‘s Central Office or a state partner for more information on loan procedures for MTL.
Youth & Family Activities
- PA OMK is working hard to provide children and families with special programs and events throughout the year. Some special events have included an OMK sponsored Fun Run, a sleepover at the Carnegie Science Center for military families, participation at Military Appreciation Day at Kennywood Amusement Park, Family Tubing in the Poconos and participation at a Welcome Home event through the Butler VA.
The Operation: Military Kids program in Pennsylvania is managed through Penn State Extension. If you would like to be on a mailing list to be kept apprised of upcoming OMK activities as well as other special programs of which OMK becomes aware, please contact Susan Smith, OMK Project Coordinator, at the above contact information and provide her with your mailing address, email address and ages of children.