ACS dons cape for 51st birthdayBy Danielle Davis,

Renee Richardson, an Exceptional Family Member Program specialist and coordinator, applies a temporary tattoo to a child at the EFMP table during the Army Community Service 51st birthday celebration July 22 in Building 7. (photo by Danielle Davis)

Renee Richardson, an Exceptional Family Member Program specialist and coordinator, applies a temporary tattoo to a child at the EFMP table during the Army Community Service 51st birthday celebration July 22 in Building 7.

By Danielle Davis, Bayonet & Saber /

Fort Benning’s Army Community Service celebrated its 51st birthday with a “Serving our Superheroes” party July 22 at Building 7.

“My kids really enjoyed themselves and I’ve learned a lot about the different programs within ACS. I will be making use of some of those now. I’ve enjoyed every event I’ve attended and I want to go more,” said Julia Shackelford, a Fort Benning resident.

Barbara Singleton, a volunteer with the Army Volunteer Corps, assists Julia Shackelford, a Fort Benning resident, and her kids with a game at her program's table during the Army Community Service's 51st birthday celebration July 22 in Building 7. (Photos by Danielle Davis)

Barbara Singleton, a volunteer with the Army Volunteer Corps, assists Julia Shackelford, a Fort Benning resident, and her kids with a game at her program’s table during the Army Community Service’s 51st birthday celebration July 22 in Building 7. (Photos by Danielle Davis)

As part of the event, programs within ACS were there to educate attendees about their services. The mobilization and deployment program assists with family readiness, said Marcus Wilson, a specialist with the program.

“We are here to help prepare Soldiers and their families for the military lifestyle. I’m excited to meet any newcomers and let them know that we are a resource available to them,” he added.

“We chose the Avengers theme for our table because they are different characters coming together fighting for one cause much like the Family Advocacy Program, which consists of various parts,” said Marta Wiecha-Swierczek, a Garrison sexual assault response coordinator.

Tabitha Jones, a nurse specialist with the new parent support program, Carolyn Harris, a FAP first steps coordinator and Mary Williams, another nurse specialist with FAP joined Wiecha-Swierczek at the FAP table.

“As part of our program, we assist new parents. We educate them on subjects like scream free parenting and breastfeeding. We’re for the spouses. We even go into the homes,” said Jones.

“Family Advocacy is here to support families. As long as the families are taken care of then we know that our service members have peace of mind,” added Harris.

“Our mission has always been serving the families. We want to ensure that we have services and programs for their wellbeing,” said Rebecca Welch, the FAP program manager.

Barbara Singleton, a volunteer with Army Volunteer Corps, was there to encourage others to volunteer. “We’re all about giving back to the community. Anyone with a desire to help should consider joining us. There’s so many great opportunities and in your giving, you receive.”

Lionel Grant, an Army Emergency Relief officer, explained that the AER is there to meet the emergency needs of Soldiers, their families and retirees.

“We offer one-on-one counseling, debt reduction programs, consumer advocacy and identify theft. We also offer classes on financial readiness,” added Karoline Garcia, a financial readiness specialist.

Albert Lee, an Employment Readiness specialist, said that ERP is designed for military spouses, but also assists DoDEA civilians, teens and veterans that are seeking employment.

“We offer resume writing and job strategy workshops. There’s also the 10 steps to a federal job and career counseling,” added Lee.

Army Family Team Building offers a military knowledge class once a month for those who are new to the Army. There are other courses as well. They gives spouses an opportunity to get to know one another, ask questions, said Nicole Heller, a specialist with the mobilization and deployment program.

The Exceptional Family Member Program provides support, education, resources, face to face in-and-out processing and warm transfers throughout the entire community, said Renee Richardson, EFMP specialist and coordinator.

“We assist families on and off post. We reach out to help them wherever their need may be,” Richardson added.

“We’re having a great time here. My son is enrolled in the EFMP and I found out about this in one of the weekly emails they send out,” said Brittany Franklin, who brought her son to the ACS birthday party to enjoy the festivities.

For more information about ACS and its programs, call 706-545-4043.

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