By Ms. Joyce Costello (IMCOM)December 24, 2008
LIVORNO, Italy - Livorno's junior enlisted housing attained recent milestones under the watchful eye of a dedicated housing manager and the frugal initiative of a Soldier.
U.S. Army Garrison Livorno Housing Director, Challen Kelker, main focus has been improving the quality of life for Soldiers since he arrived at Camp Darby in June 2008 and Spc. Bridget Austin idea has saved the garrison an estimated 16,280 Euros.
"We recently completed renovating building 406, a junior enlisted barracks to bring it in compliance with the FSBI," said Kelker . "We have three barracks being utilized on Camp Darby to include an Air Force Dormitory and an NCO BEQ, and now all barracks meet the 1+1 standard.
USAG Livorno Housing office was the first in Europe to stand up a Single Soldier Housing Office known as SSHO in June 2006. This early takeover made it easy to transition once garrison received the 1+1 First Sergeant's Barracks Initiative (FSBI) tasking.
As Soldiers were about to move to the newly renovated junior enlisted barracks; Austin, from the 511th MP Platoon, proposed a 'Just Do It' project for residents of unaccompanied personnel housing, to move themselves to building 406 without government support.
"I thought if the government could save money rather then pay thousands of Euro to move us essentially next door, then I'd rather the money be used for something was actually needed," said Austin. "When I first spoke with the other Soldiers in the barracks, they weren't too keen on the idea, but once I told them my point of view and volunteered to help move them myself, all but four agreed to the proposal."
Austin initiative, with the help of Kelker, who had brought his Lean Six Sigma "Ninja" program from USAG Yongson, Korea, has made an impact at USAG Livorno. "Saving this amount might not seem like a large amount, but every bit helps during the war on terror," said Austin.
According to Kelker, other quality of life improvements include donated kitchen items such as a china set, china tea set and dinner place setting.
"Additionally, our day room in 406 now closely resembles a living room because of a large screen TV and beautiful pictures on the wall that were donated from a private individual," added Kelker.
Kelker noted that under Operational and Maintenance Funding, SSHO is resetting the room between occupancy maintenance to make sure thebarracks maintain their high quality of life standard.
Maintaining a high standard for single soldiers is important, he said, adding that Livorno treats its single service members as a viable, important part of the Army Family recognize by the Army Family Covenant.
"As a former First Sergeant I understand what these soldiers are going through and the challenges of making sure the barracks are maintained and they have a housing manager they can depend on to get answers," said Kelker.
Future initiatives for the barracks include floor mats for the entrances, additional full length mirrors and a boot and shoe cleaning machine in order to help keep the outside outdoors.