FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — Not even a severe thunderstorm could dampen the mood during the Resiliency Fun Fair Saturday at the Apache Arts & Crafts Center.
The event was hosted by Army Community Service in partnership with the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and the center to help build resiliency through various arts and crafts and interactive activities.
The festivities started outside in the parking lot but were moved inside to avoid the oncoming storm.
Among the many agencies in attendance were Child & Youth Services, Family Advocacy Program, Killeen Heights Vet Center and Military OneSource, which set up tables throughout the center to welcome visitors, provide information and answer questions.
“This is all about prevention, education and training always, but in a fun and interactive way,” said Louise Gonel, ACS specialist resilience training coordinator.
She explained that the event was an opportunity to connect Soldiers and their families to various agencies available on the installation and to teach different life skills and methods to build mental strength and self-reliance.
“It is a platform for agencies and families to come together to build that positive energy, be able to bounce back from adversity and, at the same time, build relationships,” Gonel said.
Attendees cultivated the spirit of resilience by participating in various collaborative activities.
Some guests chose to use their artistic capabilities to create custom t-shirts, paint their own works of art on canvases and decorate one-of-a-kind ceramic statues, while others chose a more interactive way to observe resiliency.
Guests of all ages practiced their dance moves as instructors from Ladies Zumba Fort Cavazos provided a Zumba Fitness demonstration. Valerie Henne, a performance expert with the Fort Cavazos R2 Performance Center, conducted a communication and team building exercise using hula hoops.
“The idea was to inform, enlighten and educate (attendees) about what is (available through) the garrison for them,” said Mark Wilson, Apache Arts & Crafts Center facility manager.
He highlighted the Resiliency Through Art program, which provides Soldiers, veterans, family members and Department of Defense civilians a quiet, safe space to use art and crafts to help reduce stress, increase focus and develop tools to cope with the stresses of military life.
“Even if it’s just at lunch, come in for a half hour, stop thinking about your day and think about something else for a little while,” he said. “It helps you relieve stress. The mental strength gives you the ability to just be clear … to get that clarity. So, that’s what our goal is with Resiliency Through Art.”
Celebrating resiliency resonated differently among attendees.
Capt. Ross Noffsinger, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, attended the event with his three children. He described resilience as, “being tough when you face adversity.”
Staff Sgt. Isaiah Reed, III Armored Corps Noncommissioned Officer Academy, enjoyed the festivities with his family and explained that resiliency is important for military families as well as those on the front lines.
“I believe they are in the Army too,” he said. “They’re right there with you going through the same struggle so, definitely resiliency is important to have as a family member and as a military member.”
Gonel shared the same opinion, explaining that the aspiration for the event was to let the military community know there are positive outlets and resources available and that “there are helping hands out there.”
“Not only do the Soldiers wear the boots, family members also wear the boots in silence,” she said. “So, we want to let them know that we’re here for them, we understand and we support them.”