By Rachel GriffithOctober 31, 2013
Fort Huachuca and the City of Sierra Vista teamed up for the first time for the fifth annual Sierra Vistability Day Saturday with the shared goal of informing the community about services available to those with special needs.
Audrey Peterson-Hosto, manager of the Fort Huachuca Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP, said it simply made sense for the post's program to work with the Sierra Vista's Commission of Disability Issues, or CoDI, on this event because of their shared interests.
"EFMP has been an associated member of CoDI, and we have always attended each other's events," Peterson-Hosto said, adding that EFMP would host an annual informational fair in October while CoDI's was in March. "Since we would see a lot of the same venders at both, combining resources this year allowed them to attend this one event, making it easier for them to share their information and hopefully reach more people."
For the Families stationed at Fort Huachuca but do not live on post, Peterson-Hosto said combining forces with the city allows Families with special needs who live in the surrounding area to find out what kind of assistance and resources are available nearby.
"It is important for those Families to know what is out there," Peterson-Hosto said. "We have a mutual partnership, and it is our responsibility to make sure the information is available."
The EFMP is a mandatory enrollment program that works with military and civilian agencies to assist Families with special needs by providing comprehensive and coordinated community, housing, educational, medical and personnel services. Fort Huachuca's EFMP program is based out of the Army Community Service building on post.
For the second consecutive year, Sierra Vistability Day was held in the cafeteria of Buena High School. The event lasted four hours and even featured live music from Desert Swing for half the duration. Approximately three dozen vendors, including Fort Huachuca's EFMP, were set up at tables throughout the room to allow for easy interaction with visitors.
One of the vendors was Nancy Buttke, owner of Health-2-0 Medical Fitness Center. While she was getting the word out about her business, a fitness center that provides physical activities for the elderly under medical supervision, she was also providing information about a weekly Parkinson's disease support group.
"It is so important for those who have Parkinson's or their Family members to have community support," Buttke said. "By attending this group they can learn about doctors in the area and get any medical information they may need, but it also allows them to be around other people who have Parkinson's and receive mutual support, which can be extremely beneficial.
"I am thrilled that [Sierra Vistability Day] enabled me to get the word out about the support group."
Sierra Vista Parkinson's Support Group meets on the second Wednesday of the month in the Mona Bishop Room, Sierra Vista Public Library, 2600 E. Tacoma, from 1:15 -- 3 p.m.
Jeff Pregler, Sierra Vista senior planner and city liaison to CoDI, said commission members have their ears to the ground and listen to what the community wants when it comes providing help for those with special needs. Sierra Vistability Day, Pregler said, serves as a centralized place where those seeking information can acquire it.
"This event is like a one-stop shop when it comes to finding out about what resources are available here in Sierra Vista and Cochise County," Pregler said. "This type of event fair allows a lot of information to get out in a short amount of time. We hope it helps a lot of people."
Aside from allowing community members to find out what kind of help is accessible locally, Pregler added that Sierra Vistability Day is a good networking resource for vendors.
"It allows providers to meet one another and perhaps learn what other businesses and resources are also in the area, if they didn't already know," Pregler said.
Sierra Vistability Day did not require any grant funds from the city, Pregler said, as it was a self-sufficient event that was funded by vendor fees and received help from a $1,000 donation by Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative.
In the future, Pregler said he is hopeful that more "awareness" activities can be planned, such as walks.
"We are always looking to expand and diversify our presentations," he added.
Overall, Pregler believes the goal of the annual Sierra Vistability Day was met as long as people got the information they were looking for.
"The idea is for those with special needs to have the happy, healthy lifestyle everyone deserves," Pregler said. "We hope this event provided them with the kind of information and resources that enables them to have that."
CoDI meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall in Sierra Vista. For more information about Fort Huachuca's EFMP, contact ACS, 522.2330.