SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- As the decades pass, Army Community Service has seen many changes, improvements and restructuring, but its mission remains the same: to build resilience and stability in Soldiers and families.

ACS, here, part of the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, celebrated its 46th birthday, July 25, with a walk through history that also celebrated the organization’s future.

ACS staff members and volunteers, decked out in period costumes, guided attendees through the walk down memory lane.

“This is a time machine that highlights how ACS developed through the decades,” said Hank Cashen, acting director, ACS. “Each decade identified different needs and put programs in place to address those needs.”

Lt. Col. Emma Marie Baird is credited as the mother of ACS, which started in the 1960s and was run by noncommissioned officers. The program was created to address the special circumstances of military life, such as family issues, that could affect the morale and retention of active duty Soldiers.

In the beginning, ACS had a three-fold mission: relocation assistance, information referral and Army Emergency Relief.

The Lending Closet, part of relocation assistance, was the first program created during the 1960s and still exists today.

In the 1970s, ACS fell under MWR and depended on an all-volunteer staff. One of the decade’s highlights was the creation of child development centers in response to an Army family that was growing.

During a brief stop off in the 1980s, Staff Sgt. Archie Williams, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, said he was happy to learn these history lessons.

“You have to know where you come from to know where you’re going,” he said.

This decade, universally known for its materialism, focused on helping others and introduced the Army Family Action Plan, for addressing issues up the chain; the Family Advocacy Program, to help prevent child and spouse abuse; and the Exceptional Family Member Program, to help families with special needs.

The 1990s ushered in the Information Age and saw the creation of Army Family Team Building, which enhances personal knowledge of the military and develops leadership skills, self-confidence and independence.

In recent years, the Soldier and Family Assistance Center, Survivor Outreach Services and master resiliency trainers for Comprehensive Soldier Fitness have become highlighted features of ACS.

“ACS is based on Army families helping Army families,” Cashen said.

Army families showed up in force as unit family readiness groups set up tents full of activities and treats outside the center.

Maj. Brad Endres, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th ID, took time on his redeployment block leave to attend the event with his daughters, Mary Kate and Elizabeth.

Master Sgt. Daniel Massey, 303rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal, 45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Theater Sust. Command, attended with his family, wife Marilyn and sons Owen and Spencer, who joined together to cut the cake.

ACS is so dedicated to helping families that staff encouraged birthday party attendees to provide feedback about which programs and services are the most useful and relevant, something family member Adela De Hoyas took time to do.

Find out what each program entails and what else ACS has to offer at www.himwr.com, at (808) 655-4227 or at Building 2091, Schofield Barracks.

New hours for the Fort Shafter ACS are 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. Call (808) 438-9285.

Page last updated Tue August 9th, 2011 at 00:00