Garmisch ACS Team celebrates history and looks to the future
July 23, 2009
- Busy first year of full service ACS
- Supports Army Family Covenant
- Helping Soldiers from across Europe and downrange who visit Garmisch
GARMISCH, Germany -- As Army Community Service observes another year of dedicated service worldwide, the Garmisch ACS center threw a birthday party July 24 to celebrate its progress and look to the future.
"The Garmisch ACS has been a fantastic resource for me and my entire family!" said Chelsea Watson. Her husband Spec. Jonathan L. Watson serves the garrison community as a military policeman.
Since its inception in 1965, ACS has provided an ever expanding variety of programs and services to meet the needs of Soldiers and their Families. This month ACS turns 44, and at one year old Garmisch is proud to be part of its evolution, having established Europe's newest ACS Center in 2008. The Garmisch center now offers an entire menu of services on site to our community as part of the Army Family Covenant and the ACS "Right Sizing" initiatives.
For several years Garmisch had a one-deep ACS office; many Garmisch firsts have happened over the past 16 months since the center was established.
Soon after converting empty offices into an inviting center, ACS established a weekly children's playgroup. Within the first month, 20 percent of the children in the community had experienced the fun with their parents.
"It is very convenient to have a full service ACS in our community. When we needed ACS, they were right there for our family," said Verlie Gibson, wife of Staff Sgt. Derrick Gibson, a Soldier currently serving at the tenant unit NATO School in Oberammergau.
The center also became an official Army Emergency Relief Section in July 2008. Since then, more than $12,000 in loans and grants have been issued, some to visiting Soldiers who needed assistance while traveling away from their home posts. ACS partnered with the chapel, garrison and tenant unit leadership to organize the Holiday Assistance Program in November and December 2008, coordinating donations and providing aid to the community.
The first USAG Garmisch Army Family Action Plan Conference was held last February, addressing more than 40 issues identified by community members.
Financial Readiness Program Manager Patty Pearce hosted a "Save and Invest Forum" in March to provide critical financial information in a time of global fiscal uncertainty. She also coordinated with many other European installations to have the forum offered at their locations.
"We honored our many community Volunteers recognizing their contribution of more than 3175 documented hours of service in a seven-month time period," said Steve Gauthier, FMWR director. "While Garmisch does not host combat units, our Mobilization and Deployment Program Manager assisted and supported Soldiers and their Families before, during, and after their deployments."
Exceptional Family Members now have Kari Sharpe as their local advocate in the community. Thanks to her continuing efforts, Families visiting Garmisch can ensure loved ones enjoy their vacation by having the appropriate services available to meet their needs. She is also the USAG Garmisch Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.
She and the five local Unit Victim Advocates make it possible for victims of sexual assault to get immediate assistance; no longer having to await arrival of this critical support from neighboring installations.
Garmisch ACS also collaborated with the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort and the Military Family Life Consultant Program, to provide Active Duty members on Rest and Recuperation leave a personalized message of support upon their arrival.
Part of Garmisch ACS's mission is to convert to a Family Assistance Center (FAC) in times of emergency. When activated the FAC becomes the central information hub and support network for the entire community. Since opening, the center has converted into a FAC for two installation force protection exercises, helping the center to fine tune their abilities to respond in times of crisis.
Focusing on the future, the ACS Team is working toward becoming an Accredited Center in 2010, an Army requirement of all ACS Centers. Working to enhance and expand the services to the community, Garmisch ACS will be adding a New Parent Support Program in September 2009 to provide support and educational classes to expectant Families and those with young children in the home.
"The Army Family Covenant embodies that we are all part of the Army Family; this garrison is appreciative of the many community organizations, volunteers, and Family members that have assisted ACS and continue to provide their strong support in accomplishing the Garmisch ACS mission," said Karin H. Santos, Garrison manager.