By Wendy Brown, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsMay 9, 2019
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (May 10, 2019) -- At first glance, the Camp Zama Community Baby Shower looked like any other, with games, food, gifts and "I Love You to the Moon and Back" decorations.
It differed in one important way, however.
The first-time parents who attended didn't so much come away with vehicles full of baby gear as they did brains full of information. And organizers purposely designed it that way, said Cheryl Rendon, Camp Zama Exceptional Family Member Program manager, Family Advocacy Program specialist and organizer of the event at ACS May 8.
"This is their first time having a baby," Rendon said. "They're overseas. They're away from their families, and we're a close-knit community, so we just want to make sure they know they can go to (Army Community Service), or they can go to any of these other agencies and say, 'Hey, I need some help as I nurture my child.'"
Speakers from Child and Youth Services; Preventative Medicine at Camp Zama's BG Sams Health Clinic; Women, Infants and Children Overseas; the Military Personnel Division's passports and birth certificates division; Educational Development and Intervention Services; and the Financial Readiness Program at ACS spoke to attendees about resources. In addition, an ACS trainer talked about lactation support and birthing.
Parents-to-be from six families attended, and Amanda Valdez was among them with her husband Sgt. Chance Johnson, a medic assigned to U.S. Army Medical Activity-Japan. Valdez said she found the information extremely helpful.
"They provided a lot of insight and helped tame my fears, because I'm here without my family," Valdez said. "This is my first child, and I have a lot of nerves, but they helped calm them, knowing that other people are around who know what they're doing and I can ask them for help."
Johnson said the baby shower opened his eyes to a lot of opportunities he and his family can take advantage of in the future.
"With Zama being so small, this helped me realize they offer so many things," Johnson said. "I didn't know that."
Likewise, Sgt. Ryan Pointer, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, and her husband Spc. Tyler Pointer, assigned to the 623rd Movement Control Team, 35th CSSB, said they learned a lot.
"It was a lot of good information that I wasn't aware of, and it's very helpful," Sgt. Pointer said. "It helped point me in the right direction so I can find answers."
Spc. Pointer said the shower helped give him ideas for when the baby arrives.
In addition, with games that included a baby-related word scramble and a quiz about the gestation periods of animal babies, Spc. Pointer said he appreciated the shower's fun aspects as well.
"It was a good time," he said.
Rendon said this was the first community baby shower, and ACS officials hope to hold more in the future, possibly on a biannual basis.
People with questions about family resources at Camp Zama can contact Rendon at DSN (315) 263-5398 or from overseas at 011-81-46-407-5398.