By Chrystal Smith (USAG Wiesbaden)August 15, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - For nearly five decades this organization has proven to meet Soldiers' and families' needs, and locally its staff has established itself among the top in the Army, again.
U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's Army Community Service celebrated its 48th birthday July 25 with food, fun, music and families, and basked in the glory of being named 2012 ACS Center of Excellence, Category C, for the second consecutive year.
"It's nice that all the hard work they have been doing is recognized by the Department of the Army," said Jan Meert, USAG Wiesbaden ACS chief, speaking of her staff and adding that Leary Henry and Annikka Trabucco received individual recognition for 2011 and 2012, respectively. "I think everybody is doing great stuff."
The ACS was officially approved as an Army establishment July 25, 1965, but it unofficially came about in 1958. It was made up of volunteers who ran lending closets and thrift shops, held emergency fundraisers, assisted in emergencies and provided training to the newcomers to meet the needs of Soldiers and families.
Today, the center is holding true to its foundation and continues to impress Soldiers and family members with its delivery of services.
Tabitha Yaffe and her family, who were celebrating with the ACS, have been patrons of the ACS's services for eight years, and said its variety of offerings has benefited her family greatly -- especially during their recent relocation to Wiesbaden.
"We made good use of the ACS when we first got here," she said. "ACS makes you feel comfortable when you arrive here."
Yaffe said she learned of the ACS years ago and has used traditional programs and services such as the lending closet and New Parent Support Program. "They were very helpful," she said speaking of the center at her previous location, Fort Benning, Ga., and ACS in general. "It's very much person-to-person. It (doesn't feel like) the Army structure; it's low hassle."
She also said that new class offerings have piqued her interest to give back to the community through its various services as a volunteer.
"We are now in a position to pass on the knowledge we've learned over the years," said Yaffe, who said she and her family are considering participating in Emergency Placement Care and teaching. "We want to pay it forward."
Yaffe said the organization has been a primary resource for her family and is optimistic about it getting the support from the Army to continue to serve military families. "I hope the Army understands the importance of the program and funding isn't cut anymore than it has to be," she said.
This year's celebration included face painting, games, a bouncy house, crafts and free refreshments. The U.S. Army Europe Band's Kaiser Brass offered musical entertainment, USO and Community Bank provided food, and Boy and Crew Scouts hosted games and crafts to support the event.
Through the years ACS has evolved to meet the progressive needs of Army families. Its staple programs and services include Army Family Action Plan, Army Family Team Building, Army OneSource, Army Volunteer Corps, Exceptional Family Member, Family Advocacy, Financial Readiness, Information and Referral, New Parent Support, Relocation Readiness, Sexual Assault and Response, Soldier and Family Assistance Center, Employment Readiness, Survivor Outreach Services, Transitional Compensation and Victim Advocacy.
Army Community Service is located in Hainerberg Housing Building 7790, and can be reached by phone at mil 337-5234 or civ (0611) 4080-234.