HOHENFELS, Germany -- Hohenfels celebrated the opening of its new Army Community Service Family Center for Little Troopers with cake, coffee and appreciation at an open house held here, March 19.
"The search for this building began in November, 2013," said Linda Harvey, ACS Division Chief. "With the help of Command Sgt. Maj. (Kenneth) McKoy, Little Troopers was able to secure and move into this facility."
The Little Troopers is a weekly Armywide interactive and educational playgroup designed to educate parents on the developmental appropriate play of children and help children up to three years of age explore and improve social, cognitive and motor skills.
The facility is also home to the Newborn Network which shares educational tips with new mothers and mothers-to-be on such topics as feeding, infant development, soothing a crying baby, and more.
"This is the only mom and tots group in Hohenfels and it's an extremely successful way to connect moms. It's a really good support group for them," said Priscilla Fleisher, ACS Family Advocacy Program manager.
Finding the building was only half the battle. A former BOSS (Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers) facility, the building was full of pool tables, old furniture and other items.
"It took a while to make it appropriate and safe for kids," said Summer Mack, New Parent Support Program coordinator.
Much of the work was accomplished by volunteers who carried furniture, cleaned, inspected and painted the facility.
"They donated so many hours," Fleisher said.
Two Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Pvt. Edwin Acevedo and Pvt. James Walczyk, collectively donated 130 hours to paint the interior.
"Having seen the little annex they were in before, it definitely feels good to see they have a facility they can use now," said Walczyk.
"This is a lot bigger so it allows the kids to run around a bit more," said Mariana Greene, one of the mothers in attendance.
"And there's actually a place to change (my daughter) now," added Samantha Adolph.
Col. James E. Saenz, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria commander, was on hand at the ceremony with praise for the volunteers and the program.
"It's a great opportunity to be able to bring an extended service to the community," he said. "The community was obviously very happy with the Little Trooper program, they wanted to have more space and more chances to have that contact with our ACS professionals and time for our moms to get to know each other. And that Command Sgt. Maj. McKoy was able to find this building and make this happen for them was a win win for everybody."
Having served more than 30 years in the Army while raising his own children, McKoy, USAG Hohenfels command sergeant major, knows the importance of the structure and atmosphere children need to grow and develop.
"I had gone to a previous (Little Trooper event) where I saw 40 -- 50 moms with small kids in a very small room. I knew the quality of the program and I felt it was my duty and obligation to find a place where they could fully unfold this program so it could continue to be a success in the Hohenfels Military Community," McKoy said.
McKoy added that he has served on many installations in his career and that while Hohenfels was the smallest, it was also one of the best for raising a family.
"Today we have MI (Military Intelligence) Soldiers, garrison Soldiers, Soldiers from the 1-4 Infantry, all volunteering collectively to put this thing together and open it up for the community," he said. "Everything that's done here in Hohenfels is kind of done along those same lines, where all the different companies and agencies in the community come together to accomplish a common goal.
"It's just an outstanding atmosphere here in Hohenfels," he said.