By Senior Airman Susan Moreno
Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Public Affairs
WASHINGTON, May 20, 2011 - First lady Michelle Obama visited Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling youth center here yesterday to complete a congressional spouses service project with 40 of the installation's youth.
This year, the project was geared toward military families. The first lady and congressional spouses painted a mural at the base's youth center, which provides care for more than 300 children of military families. They also painted several benches to be placed around the base.
"Thank you so much to everyone for coming out today," Obama said to the crowd of families gathered. "You guys are making sacrifices that most Americans don't even understand. It means so much to the communities we work with. It's priceless for them, and it's priceless for us."
The youth center supports several community youth programs such as the home school community, Tiny Tots Play Group, Boy Scouts, the National Jr. ROTC Knowledge Bowl, and youth town hall meetings."
Congressional spouses also expressed their pleasure and enthusiasm to have a part in the project.
"As the wife of a former lieutenant commander in the Navy, working with military families is near and dear to my heart," said Colleen Peters, wife of U.S. Rep. Gary Peters of Michigan. "When military members serve, their families serve too."
Peters was a Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He served in the Persian Gulf supporting Operation Southern Watch and overseas during increased military activity following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"Mrs. Obama's call to service is so meaningful," said Mary Sorteberg, who is married to U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. "That's why people serve in Congress and on the Hill. I wish we had three times as many people here today!"
"Only one percent of the country's population defends the entire nation," said Leighton Oshima, spouse of U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. "This is the least we can do. I am happy to have this opportunity to help some of our service members."
Student teaching artists from the Corcoran Gallery of Art's ArtReach Program and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities helped design and carry out the project.
"I want to thank Mrs. Obama and all the congressional spouses who are here today," said Darrilyn Young, the base's child and youth programs director. "I am so excited, because the recipients of this honor are benefitting on so many different levels. This is living proof of why we have dreams and visions."
First Lady Michelle Obama