March 22, 2012

Coffee House brings a sense of home for Soldiers

Natalie Lakosil
Spc. Hiliary Clark plays Scrabble with her peers while at the Coffee House. A variety of board games are available to the Soldiers.

For a few hours, once a month, Eifler Fitness Center provides a sense of ‘home’ where students can enjoy a home-cooked meal and a sense of fellowship while they are here, training.

“I always come here and it brings a sense of home “” it really does,” Pfc. Tee-Marie Chenevert, Company F, 309th Military Intelligence Battalion, said of the Coffee House the Chapel runs for MI Soldiers.

Chenevert said she initially came for the free food, but after attending a few times, realized it was more than just free food.

“The last time I came here, the company chaplain was talking about deployment and the feeling she will get and stuff like that, and it made me think about home a lot. The volunteers take care of you and it’s a home cooked meal, which is really nice because you don’t get that [otherwise] at all. You either get MREs (meals ready to eat) or “¦ DFAC (dining facility) food, and that’s the truth,” she added.

“They try really hard to make it seem like a family event and, at first, its kind of difficult (be)cause you are new and all, but as time goes on, I come here just for that reason of feeling like family,” Chenevert said.

Staff Sgt. Leander Outlaw, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 111TH MI Brigade chaplain’s noncommissioned officer in charge, said Coffee House is an event focused on the advanced individual training students, giving them a chaplain-led event alternative to going downtown and getting in trouble.

“We provide them with food, games, activities, and also the chaplain gives a five-minute devotion. So add five minutes of spirituality to it, and the rest is students hanging out amongst each other,” Outlaw said.

Coffee House takes place once a month on the second Friday of each month from 6 ““ 8:30 p.m. “It being an installation-sponsored event, anyone on the installation can attend. But primarily, it is focused on AIT students,” Outlaw said.

The event is free and always provides students with a home cooked meal and different activities. Pizza and more than 15 sides were offered at this month’s event. Local volunteers make all of the food.

“We always have one major event and games like Uno, chess and checkers,” Outlaw said. The major event this month was volleyball.

The Coffee House is funded through the Chaplain Tithes and Offering Fund donations given by service members and civilians on Sunday mornings during church services.

Coffee House is held nine out of 10 times at Eifler gym, Outlaw said.

“We try to focus it down here in AIT-land so the students don’t have to walk that far to get to us. It is a central location down here. It allows them to have fun in a good atmosphere with good people and also give them a five-minute devotion from the chaplain, so we come to where they are,” Outlaw said.

“The volunteers serve the Soldiers their food and bake for them; they are an integral part in making this work for us,” Outlaw said.

“It gives the Soldiers an alternative in a Christian environment. It is an alternative to running around down town or other stuff,” said volunteer and Outreach Ministries Director Jo Moore.

“We have an 87-year-old lady that makes 125 dozen cookies each time,” Moore said. “We usually get 250 to 300 Soldiers at each Coffee House.”

The devotion this month held by the 304th MI Battalion Chaplain, Capt. John Arnoldbik, who discussed temptation with the Soldiers. “It is something we all face in life and struggle with,” Arnoldbik said.

The next Coffee House will be held on April 14 at Eifler Fitness Center.

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