Game Mania kicks off Military Family Appreciation Month
November 10, 2011
Military Families in the National Capital Region flocked to Fort Belvoir's Army Community Service building for Military Family Appreciation night, Friday.
"Game Mania" was the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's kickoff event for Military Family Appreciation Month.
The theme for Military Family Appreciation Month this year is "Taking care of those who take care of us." Families had an opportunity to win prizes and play an assortment of games. They could also get their pictures taken by a professional photographer.
"All of the feedback I received was very positive. I think everyone had a good time," said Michelle Lake, Information and Referral Program Manager who helped coordinate the event along with Carelease Kouneski, Exceptional Family Member Program Assistant, and Colandra Sealey, Army Family Team Building Program Manager. "The people who took advantage of the photographers really enjoyed the pictures. A lot of people liked the DJ engaging the children as well as the face painting. I think the fact that we showed the Families how much we appreciate them was the biggest thing."
Families played ACS bingo, Bunko, Family Feud and various trivia games. Family members spun the DFMWR wheel for a chance to win gift cards and other prizes.
Military Families are fortunate and blessed to have a group of people who would want to host an event like Military Family appreciation night, according to Sgt. 1st Class Norbert Patrick, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, Family Medicine, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and Gerber Village resident and father of four.
"I've been eating, but my kids have been all over this place," said Patrick. "I haven't been able to keep up with them. But, the event has really engaged the children and it breaks up the monotony. They are having a blast."
Patrick's wife, Asmeret, felt this year's event was better then last year's since there were more games for children of all ages.
"Last year they didn't have any video games," said Asmeret. "There are more activities for teenagers to do this year."
Maj. Steve Woodside, 12th Aviation Battalion, executive officer, whose three year old son spent time playing Jenga and jumping in the bounce house said coming to the event was unexpected, but well worth it.
"My wife was already down here and she called me to come meet her," said Woodside. "But, the food is good and there are good games for the kids that are keeping them entertained."
After Garrison Commander Col. John Strycula and Fort Belvoir Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Berhane signed the Army Family Covenant, prizes were raffled off.
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jesse Haywood III, Marine Detachment, Fort Belvoir won a weekend stay at the Hilton in Springfield, Va.
"It's much needed," Haywood said. "Just some time for me and my wife to get away."
Two Family members also spoke about how Fort Belvoir or the Army has cared for them in times of need.
Ursela Bowman spoke of how the Survivors of Military Spouses group has helped her get through losing her husband who was killed in Afghanistan in 2008. Lois-Lynn Deuel spoke about how the Exceptional Family Member program at Caserma Ederle (Camp Ederle) and at Fort Belvoir has assisted her Family and her 8-year-old son, Lance, who has autism.
"Finding out which parents like their therapists, which ones don't and who's the developmental pediatrician that you want to go to," said Deuel. "I feel like when I'm making decisions that I'm informed because people who have come before me are giving me advice."
Many Family members expressed an interest in having the event, again, next year.
"Carelease, Michelle and myself worked really hard to make sure that this would be a memorable event for all the Families of Fort Belvoir," said Sealey. "By the feedback that we received from the Families we succeeded."