SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Army Hawaii Family Housing officials are hoping to see more Soldiers and their family members out at resident forums in the coming months, as the informational meeting - which, in large part, helps new military personnel adjust to life in Hawaii - begins its first full year of operation.

Since its launch last summer, the Resident Forum has shown only modest participation among new and existing residents within the North and South communities, much to the dismay of forum organizers.

"Our attendance hasn't been so good," said Vicki Vandertang, property management coordinator, AHFH. "We've had as many as six residents at our forums, but usually it's only a couple of people who show up."

Vandertang suspects that many residents are wary of attending these meetings - held once each month, alternating between North and South community sites - because they mistakenly believe "they'll have to sit through more lectures."

But while housing policies and procedural issues are definitely covered by Army senior leadership and community center staff members, much of the approximately hourlong meeting is dedicated to forging relationships between residents and the employees who will be assisting them as Army housing occupants.

In fostering an environment of cooperativeness, for example, forum attendees are greeted with kukui leis, and door prizes are raffled off.

"I don't know if people really understand the benefits of coming to these forums," Vandertang said. "They not only have a chance to meet our garrison staff and those in Army Hawaii Family Housing, but to build a community with these people."

Or as Command Sgt. Maj. Darryl Jannone, U.S. Army Garrison-Oahu, said, "The residents' forum is more than an information briefing. It connects communities through action and involvement, which, in the long run, increases the quality of life for our Soldiers, family members and civilians."

In addition, community managers spend a portion of the forum highlighting upcoming Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities they believe forum attendees will be interested in.

"There's so much out there for them to do, and we try to incorporate the things that are so great about Hawaii into the forums," Vandertang said. "Our staff members do a presentation on the places to see so that our residents have a much better feel of the islands."

The next meeting is scheduled for North residents, Feb. 17, at 4 p.m., at Porter Community Center, Schofield Barracks.

<b>Forum schedule for North, South communities</b>
Aca,!Ac Feb. 17, 4 p.m. - Porter Community Center, Schofield Barracks
Aca,!Ac March 17, 5:30 p.m. - 1st Lt. Jon Brostrom Community Center, Fort Shafter
Aca,!Ac April 14, p.m. - Kalakaua Community Center, Schofield Barracks
Aca,!Ac May 19, 5:30 p.m. - Aliamanu Community Center, Aliamanu Military Reservation
Aca,!Ac June 16, 4 p.m. - Porter Community Center, Schofield Barracks

Page last updated Thu February 18th, 2010 at 13:56