By Ms. Jessica Marie Ryan (IMCOM Europe)August 17, 2018
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- Moving to U.S. Army Garrison Benelux can feel like a whirlwind experience. As newcomers are in-processing to their new duty station, they may feel overwhelmed with taking in too much information in a short period of time.
To make people feel more welcomed to the community, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation hosted the first Benelux Welcome Expo Aug. 11 at the Community Activity Center on Chièvres Air Base, Belgium. Called a "one-stop shop," the expo was an opportunity for community members, both new and seasoned, to meet with different organizations at the garrison and SHAPE.
"You don't know what you don't know," said Bill Schaffer, MWR business and recreation division chief. "Events like these help people find out about new programs and activities available to them. They will get good takeaways."
In addition to learning about different organizations, attendees were able to save themselves time and extra trips during in-processing. For instance, Becky Walenda, an Army spouse, met with the Child and Youth Services staff. She made sure that her family was registered in the WebTrac system so they can use CYS and MWR services.
"It was very helpful to talk to people one-on-one, face-to-face," she said. "I would encourage other newcomers to come to these events to seek the resources and find where you could fit into the community."
NATO ID cardholders were also welcomed to attend and get information. Karina Heise, a German Army spouse, came to the event with her family. Even though she has lived in the community for a year, she still discovered new resources for her family.
"We came to the event, because it was opened to all NATO members," she said. "I got a lot of great information about volunteering and CYS options that I didn't know about before."
According to Shawna Morton, MWR special events coordinator, the garrison plans to host the events annually during the summer as newcomers are getting settled in the community.
For those who missed the event, Morton said that people are always welcomed to ask questions and get information at MWR facilities.
"Our front-door facilities are always open to them. They can always reach out to us," she said.
Attendees can also visit https://benelux.armymwr.com in addition to https://SHAPE2Day.com for information on SHAPE organizations.
The next Benelux Welcome Expo will be held in Schinnen Saturday at Schinnen Recreation Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information can be found at https://schinnen.armymwr.com. The NATO Joint Top-III Association will host a BBQ and Potluck Event at the 3 Star Recreation Center in Brussels Aug. 31 starting at 5:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring a side dish to the potluck. For more information, email hqnatojointopIII@gmail.com (the III are uppercase i's).