Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation director Derrick Gould looks over upcoming event plans with FMWR marketing director Amelia Flanigan, left, and FMWR schools liaison Barbara Williams.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- All communities are defined by their quality of life. And that's no exception at Redstone Arsenal.

This working community offers a wide range of leisure, recreation and entertainment activities that provide plenty to do after hours. From the popular quarterly Comedy Nights at The Summit to the wide range of youth sports coordinated on well-maintained sports fields and in state-of-the-art gyms, the quality of life for the Arsenal community offers opportunities for most all interests.

"Our basic vision is to provide an improved quality of life for the Redstone Arsenal work force and their families," Derrick Gould, director of Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation, said. "We are offering activities that the entire family can enjoy, and that maybe they can't get off the Arsenal. And we are offering them at reduced rates."

During the past year, FMWR has been reshaping and redeveloping its programs and activities to better reflect the changing Arsenal community. With the move of the Ordnance Munitions and Electronics Maintenance School, the Arsenal lost a community of about 1,000 transitional Soldiers that fueled a robust intramural program, populated activities offered through the Recreation Center and kept the Arsenal's nightspot -- Brooklyn's in the Bowling Center -- filled with Soldiers who enjoyed playing pool or watching sporting events with their friends at a sports lounge.

But while the younger Soldier is no longer part of the Arsenal community, there is a growing community of senior Soldiers and civilians who still want to enjoy what FMWR has to offer both in terms of adult and family programs.

"The move of OMEMS really had a huge impact on our customer base," Gould said. "But with more and more offerings of family-oriented programs we are reworking some of our hours and activities so that we can provide the kinds of things our work force will enjoy. What we offer is based on customer need and demand."

So, while The Summit continues to offer Comedy Nights, beer and wine tasting events, and other social gatherings, other FMWR programs offer team sports to include bowling, basketball and softball; outdoor recreation such as boating, hunting and camping; entertainment that brings outdoor concerts and festivals to the Arsenal; and facilities for numerous activities including arts and crafts, auto repair, children's martial arts and dance activities offered through the School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills, and even flying airplanes.

"These offerings are benefits for our federal work force," Gould said. "Our customers are getting the best we have to offer in activities, facilities and customer service."

In a weekly series beginning today, the Redstone Rocket will explore the variety of programs, activities and events offered by FMWR.

Offering the best in facilities has, in recent years, led FMWR to add new and renovated facilities to attract new customers and increase usage by existing customers overall. Those facilities have included an expanded golf course, renovated gyms, a new bowling center, updated arts and crafts, and auto skills center facilities, and updated sports fields. But Gould and the FMWR staff know that to keep customers coming in the front door of their facilities they must provide top quality service.

"When the new Bowling Center opened in 2005, it was packed from day one. It is very easy to maintain a large number of customers six months to a year with a shiny new facility," Gould said. "But without good customer service you don't keep those customers and you don't grow your customer base. Sometimes, customer service overrides everything else."

More than 90 percent of the FMWR work force has received Operations Excellence Training and monthly training programs that reiterate the importance of good customer service.

"Customers keep coming back because of the employees at the front counters and throughout our facilities who do all the hard work to make their experience a good one," Gould said. "It is important that the entire FMWR work force understands they are the important cog in the machine."

Fortunately, new and renovated facilities have been designed to make it easier for FMWR employees to serve their customers.

"We've built in more efficiencies so it is easier for them to do their jobs," Gould said. "For example, we doubled the size of the kitchen at The Summit so that the staff can prepare two different kinds of meals for large groups at the same time. We have added better employee facilities to increase morale and to make it a better working environment overall."

Renovations, especially those at Pagano Gym and The Summit, have received a lot of positive feedback from customers.

"At Pagano Gym, things are more user friendly, there's more space and the offerings are so much better. At The Summit, people have liked the new aesthetics," Gould said.

FMWR is working to increase its conferencing, meeting and catering offerings with the opening of The Overlook and the Community Activity Center during the past year. This year, FMWR will open a renovated facility that will be known as The Cliffs (formerly the Rustic Lodge) and the renovated Heiser Hall, where the popular Friday night movies are set to resume in the next month or so. In addition, the former dining facility will be renovated to provide a one-stop site for Army Community Service; FMWR membership office; Child Youth and School Services registrations; Information, Tickets and Reservations activities; Leisure Travel; and the Java Café.

"It will be a one-stop signup shop to make things more convenient for our customers," Gould said.

While the FMWR offerings provide a rich quality of life, Gould said his staff is most challenged by informing the Arsenal work force about its offerings and who can use them.

"Anyone who has access to the Arsenal can use our facilities," he said. "And I believe if we offer something the Arsenal community wants, then they will use it.

"Our challenge is to offer programs, activities and events to entice our work force to either stay here after work or to return. And in today's fiscal environment, we also have to be self-sustaining. If we aren't, then we will have to shut down programs. So, it is important that we offer programs, activities and events that appeal to a wide range of our work force."

To that end, Gould said the FMWR staff is always interested in customer input.

"We listen to what our customers say and we respond," he said. "They need to give us their ideas. We have and will incorporate their ideas into FMWR. And we hope our customers spread the word about what is available here for them."

Page last updated Fri February 10th, 2012 at 16:48