Sam Krzywonos spent ten years of her life serving her country, but her service to others didn’t stop after retiring from the military. Upon her retirement from the Navy as a master seaman, Krzywonos moved over to the family side of things and is currently serving as chair of the board of the Esquimalt MFRC.
Kryzwonos recalls being drawn to the Navy in her youth, starting out in the Navy League and later in the Sea Cadets. She served in the regular forces as a Naval Combat Operations Officer, serving aboard HMCS Vancouver and HMCS Protecteur and having the opportunity to sail to the South Pacific and Southeast Asia.
However, with a husband also serving in the military and wanting to start a family, Krzywonos made the decision to retire from the Navy in 2003.
Her retirement opened the door to a new chapter of serving the military community. After hanging up the uniform, Kryzwonos went back to school and as part of one of her final projects she worked with the MFRC in Esquimalt on a communications plan. From there she became an active volunteer for ten years. She recalls stepping in to help the MFRC with big events like family day and their Pacific Women’s Day Conference.
In 2012, Kryzwonos was asked to join the board of directors and last year she became chair.
As chair of the board, it is her job to provide the governance and make the sure the organization is on track for their goals.
“In my role, as part of an executive committee, it really is just to keep us on track. We go through the strategic planning each year and review the goals of the organization, where we’re headed. We’re always forward thinking we look ahead three to five years,” said Kryzwonos.
As a veteran, she brings a different dynamic to the MFRC. Understanding both sides of the coin help in her work even when it comes to simple things like understanding military acronyms saying.
“It makes my orientation a little bit better.” She uses personal experiences, as well as the experiences of her friends, to help provide better support to the families in her community.
“I think being from a military background helps and it helps to understand the challenges of military families as well,” acknowledged the veteran.
As an organization, Kryzwonos and her team have been working on many projects, alongside Military Family Services and Veterans Affairs. Specifically, the team is focusing on programs to help military families transition to civilian life.
“I think its great to have the community join together on the board and support military families. I think it’s important that we continue to evolve with the changing dynamics of families. As a reasonably small organization we can make a great impact to provide better supports for them along the way,” said the board chair.
Personally, Kryzwonos enjoys her work with the MFRC because it keeps her connected to the military still while serving her fellow families.
“I think military families are the backbone to success…when the family is doing well, and the family has all the support it needs then the military member can focus on their work,” said Kryzwonos.