Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Aime Lykins

BREMERTON, Washington – USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) Family Readiness Group (FRG) hosted a fall family festival at the Concord West fitness complex, Oct. 30.
The three-hour festival featured information about the FRG, games, bounce houses, crafts, a costume contest, a photo station, a variety of sweet treats and a special information table featuring Kitsap County Public Libraries.

“This event is about bringing the families together,” said LaKeasha Bennett, from Savannah, Georgia, the FRG vice-president, “The FRG is really about upping the morale and this event is a way to get families out of the house, get them involved and meet each other. We are really all about having fun.”

Children of all ages, dressed in colorful costumes, entered the gymnasium’s double doors and were greeted with music and smiles from FRG members and Sailors volunteering at the event.

“I just came to give back, help out the families and get involved with the kids,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Arrington Jenkins, from Arlington, Texas, who volunteered his Sunday afternoon to set up the event. “A lot of parents have been gone for a while because of deployment so it’s nice to help out and see the families connect.”

It was not only John C. Stennis Sailors who volunteered their time for families. Jaime Forsyth, the executive director of the library foundation for Kitsap County, partnered with Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrish Bilbrey to bring information about local public libraries to John C. Stennis families.

“When I talk to military families, they tell me one of the first things they do at a new duty station is find the public library because it can be one of the only constants in their lives,” said Forsyth. “Anytime that we can be where the military families are gathering, we try to inform them that our services are free and we are here to support them with our programing designed for the whole family.”

Squeals of laughter and spooky music flooded the gymnasium as children played and parents socialized while snapping photos to commemorate their experience.

“Even though the ship is headed into a maintenance period, the FRG will remain active for the families,” said Bennett. “We have a Facebook page, an e-mail list and we work alongside the ombudsmen to support our families. People can definitely expect more fun events from the FRG in the coming months and new year.”

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