FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – The Soldiers and civilians of U.S. Army Garrison-Fort Campbell continue to band together to support Soldier readiness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While under mission essential manning and increased safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus, the garrison’s vital mission remains a constant and its personnel are an important part of ensuring success.
Because every individual plays an important role whether on the frontlines or working in support, the Fort Campbell Courier is highlighting garrison employees and their contributions to the installation’s seamless response to COVID-19. This week the spotlight is on a few of the great people who work for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
Keeping Soldiers, Families and the workforce fed
Keri McPeak, business manager for MWR to Go, Hooper Bowling Center and the Artillery Grille, has made it her mission to ensure Soldiers, Families and civilians can still get good food easily on post during the COVID-19 closures.
McPeak was instrumental in establishing MWR to Go, a pick-up and delivery service, using the closed Hooper Grille. The service began March 25 and its workers follow all COVID-19 safety protocols including social distancing and the wearing of face masks.
“We wanted to make sure we had services available to the Soldiers and Families on post,” McPeak said. “Hooper, rebranded as MWR to Go, is the only one staying open for curbside pick-up and delivery.”
MWR to Go is available for curb side pick-up or on-post delivery, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-9 p.m. daily.
McPeak worked with the MWR Branch Chief for Outdoor Recreation and Transportation to acquire drivers for the delivery of meals but also drove food orders herself when staffing was low. Deliveries are now made by Child and Youth Services bus drivers.
“I couldn’t do it without my team,” she said. “They can just adapt and roll with the punches. They can provide great customer service while chaos is going on.”
McPeak collaborated with other MWR restaurant managers to develop a menu of the most popular items from their facilities and assisted in developing a heat-and-eat Family meal menu for Families of two, four and six people.
Her adaptability to change was vital to launching the new delivery system for the Fort Campbell Army Family during challenging times. McPeak hopes that if staffing allows, curbside pick-up or delivery services will continue in the future.
Sewing and sanitizing
Amy Crawford, lead child and youth program assistant at Eagles Child Development Center, enjoys taking care of children, but now she is helping take care of mission essential Soldiers, civilians and their Families, too.
When guidance was announced that all CDC staff are required to wear cloth face masks, Crawford took it upon herself to make masks for the entire staff at Eagles CDC, as well as other first responders and mission essential parents of the children in her care.
“During this pandemic, it’s something I can offer to help out,” she said. “It’s morale also.”
Because there aren’t many children at Eagles CDC, Crawford would bring her sewing machine to show the small group how to make face masks.
When not working with children or sewing, Crawford often stays late to help disinfect and sanitize Eagles CDC and the playground area, following COVID-19 cleaning protocols.
The only cook in the kitchen
Tayra Gonzalez is a cook at the Bastogne School-Age Center. Some days she’s the only cook in the kitchen as she puts forth extra effort for other staff members who cannot work because they are at high-risk for COVID-19.
Although she is working alone, Gonzalez arrives at Bastogne SAC every day with a positive attitude and a big smile.
“My inspiration is based on I like to cook,” she said.
It pleases her to do her part for mission essential personnel and the children at the SAC, she said.
“I really feel like I need to do something for them,” Gonzalez said. “They already have a lot of worry. When they come to pick up the kids, they are tired, but they feel better that the kids are OK and have eaten.”
Gonzalez’s workday begins at 5:15 a.m., when she begins to prepare breakfasts for about 30 children who are attending Bastogne SAC during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once breakfast is served it is time to prep for lunch and snacks. She often stays late to ensure the kitchen is spotless and sanitized, ready for another day of meal prep. Gonzalez does all of this while wearing a face mask and following all other COVID-19 safety protocols.
“For me, it’s like I feel I’m doing something good and especially for our Soldiers,” she said.