By Pfc. Kim, Hee-cheolNovember 12, 2017
USAG YONGSAN -- After several decades of serving the military community at USAG Yongsan, the Arts & Crafts Center and Commiskey's Community Activities Center will close their doors Nov. 17, as part of transformation and command directives to relocate facility assets in support of USAG Humphreys, Directorate of Family and MWR, Area III.
Customers can still visit the Arts and Crafts Center at K-16, and Commiskey's is available for private parties and functions until Dec. 31, said MWR Recreation Division Chief Timothy
"We have had an outstanding, award winning staff and program for many years, and we are proud of all of their accomplishments," said Higgs.
The Arts & Crafts Center, in particular, has garnered several awards, including "Awards for Excellence in Army Recreation" in 2016 and 2017.
Woodshop instructor Hwang, U-yop was USFK Employee of the Year (2011). Kim, Un-u, the Arts & Crafts Center program facility manager, is particularly proud of their legacy.
"The awards do not evaluate only one side of the program, but takes into consideration many other aspects of the service," she explained. The criteria include improvements in the programs, community projects income, staff help initiatives, marketing and media attention throughout the evaluation period.
The Arts & Crafts Center offers a host of classes, workshops and exhibitions, including flower arranging, painting, pottery, drawing, children art, homeschooler art, flower ceramic, Korean paper doll making, Korean folk art, Korean patch work, quilt, sewing, digital photography, matting and framing, wood working safety orientation, seasonal workshop, art exhibitions and countless others. Kim said she hopes the Arts & Crafts Center is remembered fondly like a hometown where Soldiers and Family members could relax, relieve stress, and meet the needs for their daily lives through such activities as repairing broken furniture.
She also expressed gratitude to the employees who have worked for her over the years. Those working in the areas of f lower arrangement, flower ceramic, matting and framing, and woodworking have worked at the Center for more than 30 years.
Former USAG Yongsan Garrison Commander Col. Maria P. Eoff was one of the center's best customers. According to Higgs, she continues to be a good customer even from afar, currently assigned as the deputy director of IMCOM-Sustainment.
"All of the employees are experts in their craft; and Ms. Kim was the ultimate artisan. It was her vision and high standards of customer service that were branded into everything that they did. The Arts and Crafts Center produced quality and one-of-a-kind items that have become part of our family heirlooms; these items are prominently displayed prominently in our home and serve as a wonderful reminder of our assignment in Yongsan and Korea," she said.
Gretchen Escribano, who trained to operate the computerized long-arm stitch machine for almost six months at the Arts & Crafts Center, expressed disappointment about the Center's closure.
"This facility serves Soldiers and Family members. They should schedule the relocation of the shop after all Family members and Soldiers move to Humphreys," she said. The Center was a driving factor behind her family's decision to return to USAG Yongsan for the third time.
The new Center at USAG Humphreys is expected to be larger than the one in Yongsan and provide more services to Soldiers and Family members, Kim said. In particular, Humphreys is expected to have a 3D printing studio, photo studio, engraving shop, and fabric and textile
The history of Commiskey's CAC is not as long as the Arts & Crafts Center, but its absence will be felt by the many community members who come to the CAC to relax. Commiskey's delivers a combination of recreation programs to include table tennis, board games, billiards, and tour and travel services. It is also used for space to host social events, holiday parties, mission training, and ceremonies.
To, Sung-chip, who has been with Commiskey's since its opening in 2012, has many fond memories of the facility and interactions with customers. "One common word our customers say to me about the closure is, 'shame'," he said. It is important to have a place where Soldiers and Families can enjoy leisurely and play games is important. "I want to continue to working with these wonderful people, and I am sad to be leaving them," he said. To will most likely move to USAG Humphreys alongside many other Korean national employees who work at USAG Yongsan.
Other MWR programs will continue to work diligently to serve the community with the departure of the Arts & Crafts and CAC programs. The award-winning BOSS (Better Opportunities for Single and Unaccompanied Soldiers) Program was also recognized by the Army in 2015 for excellence among medium-sized garrisons. The program will continue to emphasize Soldier study sessions,
youth bowling, and salsa lessons.
The Yongsan Library, which is the Army's largest general library on the peninsula, provides various services including military computers, commercial internet, and book/DVD borrowing capability. The Library also offers special events such as Thanksgiving Story Hour, Summer Reading Program, and the Weekly Toddler Story Hour.