OLYMPIA, WASH. — The Hands On Children’s Museum, together with the Northwest Association of Youth Museums, is launching a new Gold Star Family Support Program that will provide free museum admission, membership and parenting support to military families who have lost a parent during active duty.
These families, designated as Gold Star families for their service and sacrifice, face the difficult task of raising young children following the death of a beloved parent.
Hands On, like many children’s museums, has long served as a safe haven of support for military families stationed throughout the Northwest and the nation. Twenty-one children’s museums in Washington, Oregon and Alaska are participating in the new program to extend access and support to grieving families.
The program was inspired by Hands On Children’s Museum member Krista Simpson, a South Sound mother of two young boys, whose husband was killed in Afghanistan in 2013.
“The museum has truly been a safe haven and a place of healing for my family,” Krista Simpson said. “My vision is that the Gold Star program will extend nationally and include all museums. My dream is that this new Gold Star program will not only provide easy access for families, but will also create a greater awareness among the public of what it means to be a Gold Star Family.”
The Gold Star Family Support Program will join the museum’s two dozen Free and Reduced Access Programs that serve 80,000 children and families each year. The museum’s attendance is about 300,000 visitors annually.
The new program was highlighted during the annual Imagine That! fundraising breakfast, which helps to fund the museum’s free access programs. The Simpson family foundation made a generous start-up donation to the Gold Star Program in memory of Krista’s husband Staff Sgt. Michael Simpson. In addition, hundreds of individuals made contributions to the museum’s Free and Reduced Admissions Program, which also supports the new Gold Star program.
For more information about the Gold Star Family Support Program, call the museum at 360-956-0818 x0.