WIC breaks ground for new office
February 17, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - The groundbreaking ceremony for the Women, Infants, and Children facility took place on Fort Stewart, Feb. 10. The new facility will be located on W. Bultman Ave., near the veterinary clinic.
As fresh lumber laid in piles next to the decrepit modular facility paving way for the new WIC office, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey E. Phillips, 3rd ID deputy Commanding General, shared that the WIC program is an expression of the community's care for individuals.
"What is a community without the individuals," said Brig. Gen. Phillips. "This program itself is an expression of the community understanding in our heart the meaning of the words that we take care of our own, and the Army is known for taking care of its own."
The WIC is a nutrition program aimed to provide assistance to women, infants, and children. While a WIC facility is available in the city of Hinesville, the WIC clinic on Fort Stewart primarily serves the military community.
"It's good to have a "WIC facility" on post, so that you have those resources, especially for Soldiers and their Families who live on post," said Leah Poole, executive director of Liberty County Chamber of Commerce. "Some of them may not have the transportation to the other [WIC facility], so it's definitely a benefit to everybody."
The previous facility had many weaknesses. It leaked water from the ceiling and the windows, the AC system did not work properly. The halls were small, limiting access for large objects like strollers or even a desk. On rainy days, the facility seemed to be a constant target for lighting.
"The lights would shut-off and the AC kept going out," said Mary Ruth-Montoya, office manager at Fort Stewart's WIC facility. "We were like a lightning magnet. Lightning strikes kept happening. So we're all so excited about the new facility. It's the best thing that could have happened to me, the staff, and the Families."
While construction efforts are paving the path for the new facility, Ruth-Montoya and her staff are temporarily placed at Liberty County Health Department. They are scheduled to return to Fort Stewart's WIC facility sometime in mid June.
"Around mid June the "WIC facility" will be back and operational," said Deidre Howell, the administrator for the Liberty County Health Department. "In the meantime, while Fort Stewart's WIC services are shut down, Families are able to get their WIC benefits over at the main health department, which is in the building across the street from Hampton Inn in Hinesville."
When the new facility is complete, it will feature a clinic with wider halls, bigger offices, and a new parking lot. It will serve approximately 2,200 case loads.
"Our case load is about 2, 200," said Howell. "We see 2, 200 Military Families. The post was gracious enough to give us additional land, so we're able to expand our building capacity, see more clients, and actually have a really nice parking lot, too."
A major hurdle to jumpstart construction efforts for the new facility was funding. Efforts began in 2009, but not much could be done without the financial support.
"We started in late fall of 2009 working on the decision whether we wanted to put a building in the existing footprint," shared Howell. "We were able to negotiate a deal with USDA to give us special funding for a new facility on post."
As the ceremony came to a close, the decorated shovels, in blue and white ribbon, were dug into the ground, breaking the dirt where the new facility will be built. Brigadier General Phillips, deputy Commanding General, Col. Kevin W. Milton, Garrison Commander of Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield , the Fort Stewart WIC staff, Poole and Howell all participated in turning the dirt.