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Deployment and block leave not affecting MWR activities

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POSTED: July 19, 2012 7:00 a.m.
Randy C. Murray /

Children splash around Monday at Corkan Family Fun Center on Fort Stewart.

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Even with several thousand soldiers deployed or on block leave, Roni Stevens, area manager for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Corkan Family Recreation Center, said she’s seeing no loss of business at Corkan Recreation’s Skating Rink, Treehouse, Spray Park, Mini-golf or Stewart Lanes Bowling Alley.

“We’re still doing our summer camps,” she said. “Families are taking advantage of summer discounts. In fact, when Dad’s deployed, we’re busier than when he’s at home because Mom is taking the kids out to the facilities put in place just for them. The whole mission of the Army Family Covenant has worked.”

According to the Army’s website, the Army Family Covenant was signed by Army leaders in 2007 to support soldiers’ families while they were deployed.

Pat Young, community relations specialist with the Fort Stewart Public Affairs Office, said Stevens wears many hats. He said it isn’t unusual to see her flip burgers at Stewart Lanes during the lunch hour rush.

On Tuesday, as she prepared French fries, she talked about summer activities.

“Today, we have the autistic kids with us from Liberty County schools,” she said. “We’ve also got some (child development center) kids, which is great. After they bowl a few games and learn how, their parents can take them bowling.”

Sgt. Audrey Smithen, 26th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd HBCT, her son Malachi Rayford and husband Kevin Barlow were bowling Tuesday. Barlow retired from the Army two months ago, and Smithen is on block leave until July 22.

“Sunday was Malachi’s sixth birthday, so we did go out of town last weekend so he could go to Sea World and Universal Studio,” said Smithen, who said her 19-month old daughter, Maliaika Barlow, was at one of the CDCs, another MWR program. “Now we’re just taking advantage of the summer deals at the recreational centers on posts.”

Across the street at Corkan Treehouse, MWR employee Mary Harris said she hadn’t noticed fewer kids and wasn’t aware a large number of soldiers were deployed or on leave. She said summer was their busiest time of the year, regardless of deployments or leave.

Young said other MWR activities and facilities include outdoor recreation, arts and crafts, auto craft, golf and a variety of sports.
In addition to the activities provided for soldiers and family members, Young said the American Legion Post 9 is sponsoring a Warrior Weekend at Jekyll Island this weekend for local Wounded Warriors and Purple Heart recipients.

Corkan Spray Park was crowded with kids playing under the fountains, while a lifeguard and moms kept watch nearby.

“We love it,” said Stacey Dessecker, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Michael Dessecker, who is deployed. “We come here all the time.”

Sarah Hummel, wife of Spc. John Hummel, and Nicole Montanio, wife of Spc. Reuben Montanio, are fellow members of the Family Readiness Group for B Company, 1/30th Inf. Regt. Hummel and Montanio said they and their kids loved Corkan facilities. Montanio also praised the installation’s Lt. George P. Hays Library, especially its story time each Wednesday at 4 p.m.

“I think the program they have there is just phenomenal,” she said, commending Story Time coordinator, Bobby Leggins. “That lady really loves what she’s doing.”

 

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