With the transition to Shaw Air Force Base underway, Third Army/U.S. Army Central held its first Family Reading Group meeting at the Carolina Skies Club on base, Aug. 19.

Establishing a firm foundation for the FRG program at Shaw will ensure Families receive the support needed as the command makes its move over the next year.

"I want to keep people informed, connected, ready and strong," Laura Batule, Third Army/USARCENT Family Readiness Group Program Manager told participants at the meeting. "If you keep people informed, ready, and connected, they will be strong. We want to keep you informed about everything that is going on. We want you to have to have the opportunity to be involved and to know that you are always welcome to participate in the Family Readiness Group."

Susan Wild, Communications, Tourism & Recreations Director, came to the meeting along with Debra Green, to introduce themselves to Families and highlight the many activities available in the local community.

"I have had the opportunity to work as a liaison to Third Army since 2006," Wild said. "It has been exciting to meet a lot of different people over the years. We are excited you are here and we hope you all coming in will have the opportunity to attend some of the festivals and events that we have going on."

Wild highlighted the Shaw Street Fest as well as sports sign ups at the local Patriot Park. She also handed out an email sign up list for Families to get event notifications sent to them on a weekly basis.

Claudia Bostic, Community Readiness Consultant from the Airmen Family Readiness Center, also attended the meeting and spoke about the services the center offers. Bostic explained that the center is similar to Army Community Services in that it has a lending closet for incoming personnel as well as resume and job-assistance services. The center also has child care assistance programs and relocation assistance.

Batule introduced Shaw's new zip code zone leader, Lisa Banister, and explained the purpose of these groups.

"FRG meetings are normally done in a formal official setting," Batule said. "The Zip Code group gets together in a smaller informal setting. Our Families are getting information through email and the Yellow Ribbon, but the zip code groups give them the opportunity to get together at a local restaurant they haven't tried or going to someone's house. It is really like a coffee group."

In addition, Batule explained that many resources will be made available to Third Army Families stationed at Shaw. The FRG is working to ensure Soldiers and Families receive the benefits they are eligible for at Shaw. She explained one of these benefits is the possibility of free child care for some Families through the Child Development Center.

"All the parts of being a tenant on an Air Force Base are being worked," Batule said. We are working with the Air Force to make this a smooth, seamless transition for people. We just want to make sure you know we are here to help and want to be able to give you whatever information we can."

Batule ended the meeting by handing smart cards out to Families that provide a listing of phone numbers to important services on base from medical facilities to the child development center to the Housing Office. Soldiers and Families find more information on Third Army's Family Readiness Group by visiting www.arcent.army.mil/frg