By Chelsea Bissell, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Public Affairs July 16, 2012
VILSECK, Germany -- Army Community Service commemorated 47 years of existence, July 10, with a birthday party straight from any child's wish list.
Balloons and party hats adorned a room laid out with different activity stations. A booth with temporary tattoos inked toddlers with electric guitars. One large table was set up for coloring while another focused on face painting.
One booth allowed visitors to plant seeds in a soil-filled cup. After the seed sprouts, children will be able to return to add their plant to the community garden.
Though the fete was geared toward entertaining tykes, Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment joined in on the festivities as well.
Many squatted next to children, sharing their crayons, to fill in "Happy Birthday" and summer-themed coloring pages.
The brave souls got their faces painted by ACS staff members. While some Soldiers allowed the ladies of ACS to redecorate their faces, others opted for more modest designs.
Halfway through the festivities, Col. James Saenz, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr, arrived to give a few words of thanks to ACS and its employees.
"We have an exceptional program here in Grafenwoehr," said Saenz, adding that much of the success is due to the personnel.
"I know they're doing a fantastic job because everyone keeps trying to steal them from me," said Saenz, smiling.
For ACS Director Jolly Miller, this has been a banner year for her program and staff. Grafenwoehr's ACS participated in a pilot initiative that removed it from the Family and Moral, Welfare and Recreation directorate, allowing ACS to become an autonomous organization.
"I think the great benefit of the transformation is that we're now a vital part of the garrison," said Miller. "We've expanded our services and outreach. We've extended our trainings to the units directly, instead of them coming to us."
Another feather in ACS' cap was a perfect accreditation score. Ranked on the quality of services, delivery of services and extending beyond the minimum requirements, Grafenwoehr managed to ace the review without one negative point against it. However, the dissolution of the 172nd Infantry Brigade will pose new challenges for the organization.
"I think that between now and 12 months from now, we'll be asked to provide a diversity of services," explained Miller, adding that more relocation programs, from civilian employment readiness to financial readiness will be in high demand from out-processing families.
But, with a lift in the hiring freeze for ACS and an energetic workforce, Miller is confident that the organization will continue its streak.
"I see a bright future for ACS."