By Trish Muntean, Fort Wainwright PAONovember 15, 2012
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - (November 16, 2012) If you're looking for food, fellowship or learning, the Wainwright chaplains offer that opportunity Wednesday nights through Wainwright Open Wednesdays.
"Fairbanks in the winter gets to be a hard time," said Chaplain (Capt.) Jeff Ellis, Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
"We were talking about this need and how we can help," he said. "We just wanted to reach out and touch the community, give them a chance to connect and feed them, not just physically, but their other needs as well." The WOW program grew out of that.
Dinner, cooked by volunteers, starts promptly at 5:30 p.m. with spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad and some light desserts. Spaghetti was chosen because it is easy to prepare and clean up. There is no cost for dinner. It is an outreach ministry of the chapel.
"We are meeting people's needs where they are. It is November, it is cold and there are Families that are struggling to get a meal. The chapel is happy to feed you," Ellis said. "We want to provide a good meal, a night of entertainment, a night of thought that is not watching reality TV, with a pizza box in front of you."
He invites both single Soldiers and Families to come out. He tells his Soldiers that it will give their kids a chance to interact, enjoy and learn some stuff in the kids' program. Adults can learn some financial skills, some parenting skills; they can go to a Bible study and can interact with some other folks.
"We want to provide positive role models and mentorship," Ellis said. "I think it is going to do a lot for resilience."
After dinner there are several classes, which start at 6:15 p.m., to choose from. Right now there are Bible study groups for both men and women, a class for youth, a course for children and a parenting class that is geared towards parenting children (versus one geared towards parenting teens which they hope to offer at a later date.)
As the program expands (47 people attended the first night,) Ellis said they hope to add Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, a class for those parenting teenagers, a class that is a combination of Bible study and life skills, and basic courses to help Families grow and become more efficient in the way they do things.