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Angela Hamilton, a teacher with the Time for Tots program on Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, helps children make paper spiders out of construction paper and paper plates.
Angela Hamilton, a teacher with the Time for Tots program on Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, helps children make paper spiders out of construction paper and paper plates. (Jessica Inigo / S&S)
Angela Hamilton, a teacher with the Time for Tots program on Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, helps children make paper spiders out of construction paper and paper plates.
Angela Hamilton, a teacher with the Time for Tots program on Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, helps children make paper spiders out of construction paper and paper plates. (Jessica Inigo / S&S)
Children at the Time for Tots program on Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, show off their spiders made from construction paper and paper plates. The Time for Tots program helped the Rhein-Main community win the best Family Support Center award for 2003.
Children at the Time for Tots program on Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, show off their spiders made from construction paper and paper plates. The Time for Tots program helped the Rhein-Main community win the best Family Support Center award for 2003. (Jessica Inigo / S&S)

RHEIN-MAIN AIR BASE, Germany — Rhein-Main put the “support” in Family Support Center.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe named the Rhein-Main center the most outstanding small unit facility, and there are plans to establish some of the center’s programs throughout the Air Force, according to FSC officials.

The Rhein-Main family center offers services to everyone, from reserve troops just passing through the base to families in transit. And it has programs that are unique to the Rhein-Main office.

Programs such as Our House, Time for Tots play group center, and the way its Women, Infants and Children Overseas program is set up all helped the FSC earn its honor.

All programs are located in one housing building on Gateway Gardens, giving one apartment to each program as a branch of the main center on Rhein-Main, about three miles away from the housing area.

“It just made so much sense,” said Master Sgt. James McGee, support center superintendent, about centrally locating programs that families without cars would need in the housing area.

The programs are located in apartment Building 627 and offer, among other services, Internet access and household items to lend. The building also is used for parties and meetings.

But the FCS does even more, according to Judith Maughan, center director.

Three of USAFE’s new 12-point combat initiatives are main agencies through the Family Support Center: Combat Care, which improves resources and information to spouses of deployed troops; Combat Intro/Exit, which streamlines in- and out-processing; and Combat Hidden Heroes, which encourages active-duty military members, Department of Defense civilians and family members to volunteer on base and in their communities.

The Family Support Center’s learning resource center also encourages participation in a fourth initiative, Combat Education, which helps airmen pursue higher education by offering more flexible and innovative class schedules.

With troops of all services coming through the base, Maughan said there are programs to help everyone feel more at home on Rhein-Main.

Simple things such as a hot cup of coffee or a place to find clipped coupons offers some relief for travel-weary troops and their families, she said.

The FSC also offers major initiatives, such as the Summer Hire Program to help high school children find jobs on base and the USO Rest and Recuperation volunteer program to meet incoming and outgoing troops. Volunteers greeted more than 800 troops at the flight terminal on Christmas Day, she said.

Last year, the Family Support Center served more than 48,000 people, facilitated more than 100,000 outbound e-mails and served more than 40,000 cups of coffee in a community of only 3,000 members.

“This is just a super, great local community,” Maughan said.

“The support everyone shows really proves this is a much-deserved award.”

Revamped apartments

RHEIN-MAIN AIR BASE, Germany — It’s a warm apartment where smells from the kitchen could waft from any ethnic dish on any day of the week, and the families inside talk easily and laugh loudly — it’s Our House.

Rhein-Main Air Base took an empty apartment in its Gateway Gardens housing area and turned it into a haven for families to get together for fun and learning.

Our House opened its doors in September, 2002, and has been an easy family outing ever since. The two-bedroom apartment holds a six-computer Internet café and is located across the hall from Time for Tots, a child play center. It’s below the Chapel Annex and Women, Infants and Children Overseas office.

Our House, in building 627, apartment B-2, is meant to supplement services at the main Family Support Center on Rhein-Main Air Base, about three miles away from family housing. But it has become a home where ideas are shared and fun comes easily, according to Greg Cowan, the Transition Assistance, Career Focus and Volunteer Program manager.

Cooking classes are held monthly by volunteers, as well as classes on parenting, hobbies, education, financial management, family life and relocation. They’re not only for base members, but all servicemembers, their families and Department of Defense civilians, Cowan said.

He said that typically child care is provided when available for parents during the classes.

“Our House has been a relief to family members and transitioning troops,” Cowan said. “It’s a great resource to have so close to home.”

Air Force officials have taken notice of Rhein-Main’s effort to bring services to the community instead of the community going to the service. They have asked for details on making Our House become a staple at other Air Force installations.

Our House is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., as well as during special times for evening classes or weekend parties and meetings.

Call DSN 330-7992 or civilian 069-699-7992 for class information or to volunteer at Our House.

— Jessica Inigo

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