By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterMarch 29, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Army families can often find themselves in single-parent situations with the transient lifestyle that military life brings, and Fort Rucker is making sure those family members aren't left out when it comes to family fun time.
Army Community Service hosted its Single-Parent Family Game Night at the Fort Rucker Post Exchange March 22 where family members were able to enjoy a night of board games and each other's company, said Joy McCormick, ACS New Parent Support Program and family advocacy program social worker.
"It's so important for parents and children to sit down at the table to play games with each other because of the interaction that happens during that time and the fun it creates," said McCormick. "It helps stimulate the brain and growth, so there are a lot of things that happen during this time together."
The Single-Parent Family Game Night has become a quarterly event put on by ACS and is now in its second year, with each session becoming increasingly popular, added the ACS social worker.
"Every time we seem to have more and more families, and they all seem to have a good time," she said. "Our partnership with the AAFES and the post exchange food court manager always makes sure we have food, and we get to give games away to the families -- they get to pick a game to take home with them. This is free for them, so it's great."
For many family members, like Sharon Erickson-Velez, Gold Star family member, the game night has become somewhat of a tradition that she and her children have come to love attending.
"It's just something that we can do as a family to just relax and get outside the house," said Erickson-Velez, who brought her four children, Dax, Xavier, Rhys and Scarlett. "They're always so excited and they always have such a good time playing games and meeting new people."
Erickson-Velez said she has been bringing her children to the game night for the past year and a half, and said the event helps her feel that her family is being supported, even after she lost her husband in 2016.
"I appreciate it so much," she said. "It's nice to feel supported and see that (families) aren't just left on their own. It's tough to reach out to us individually, so it's nice when they have a program that involves everyone."
It's when families are able to come out and enjoy themselves that makes all the preparation put into the game night worth the effort, said McCormick.
"This just takes a bit of coordinating, but the most difficult part of planning the evening is making sure there is no conflict with other activities that might be going on around post," she said. "But once we get our time and date together, we just send out the information and get the word out.
"We have a blast doing it -- we have a lot of fun watching the kids play," McCormick continued. "I just love to watch the kids play and I've also got to watch a lot of them grow up."