By Chris Rasmussen, Fort Jackson LeaderMarch 10, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The number of nonprofit organizations out there willing to lend a helping hand to military families can be daunting.
So Army Community Services has a solution - bring all of those agencies and Soldiers and their families under one roof and let them meet.
"Family members ... move from installation to installation, and when they come to a new community, they are not aware of what is available to them," said Cheryl Jackson, Exceptional Family Member Program manager. "And they typically have so much going on in their lives that they don't have the time to go and find out."
The EFMP will host the second annual Resiliency Awareness Fair, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday at the Solomon Center. An estimated 70 agencies from the surrounding community and installation will be on hand to offer information about their services.
"All of the agencies that provide a service to families will come together for one day to give families a chance to see them face-to-face (without them having) to leave the installation," Jackson said.
ACS started the fair last year with about 60 organizations and although it is targeted for those in EFMP, anyone is invited to attend. The fairs is a way to acommodate Soldiers' busy schedules and ensure that the programs, many of which are free, don't go unused.
"This is not necessarily just for families with special needs," Jackson said. "We are looking at a wider scope of military families. It could be a family that takes care of an elderly family member or a Soldier with a disability."
Off-post organizations slated to attend include the Boys and Girls Club, Columbia YMCA, Harvest Hope Food Bank, Brain Injury Association of S.C., Goodwill Industries, S.C. Autism Society, New Parents Support Program, USC Speech and Hearing Research Center, United Way of the Midlands and Veterans Affairs.
Another community organization participating in the fair is EdVenture Children's Museum in Columbia.
"We are so pleased to partner with Fort Jackson in getting the word out about resources and programs available to children with disabilities and their families," said Dr. Katherine Williams, health education programs manager for EdVenture. "We share our knowledge about community resources and, in turn, it helps make this a better community for everyone."
Fort Jackson agencies expected to be there include all ACS programs, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Victory Travel, Military OneSource, Fort Jackson Education Center, American Red Cross and Child, Youth and School Services.
"We will be giving out information on our upcoming summer camp and let the military families know they can register online for our classes and sports activities," said Cindy Andre-Noel, CYSS Outreach Services director. "We find this type of event is very useful in sharing information. A lot of families are not aware that it no longer costs any money to register for classes and that it is being covered by the Army Family Covenant. The actual activity may cost, but registration is now free."
For those unable to attend, a directory of services will be published on the ACS website.