Neither snow, nor rain, nor a late start, would keep hundreds of Fort Bliss families from visiting the second annual Qué pasa Fort Bliss Information Fair at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center on East Fort Bliss, Feb. 12, 2020.
However, as snow clouds filled the Sun City skies the afternoon before the fair, and Fort Bliss employees were authorized an early release, Qué Pasa coordinator Cher Roumell said she was not sure they would be able to pull off the event the next day.
Despite the early release, the looming winter weather and the delayed start, Roumell said her team was resilient. And, although the event had fewer balloons than last year, the copious amounts of information and resources made up for it.
The Centennial was filled with more than 80 representatives from off-post facilities, such as Chamizal National Park, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, realtors and dentistries, as well as on-post services, like the Exceptional Family Member Program, the volunteer program, and Fort Bliss Family Homes.
The event also included performances from children enrolled in various Fort Bliss SKIESUnlimited classes. The preschoolers and homeschool students showcased some of the extracurricular activities available through the Fort Bliss Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation program.
In this day and age of technology, when digital information is literally at your fingertips, or rather your thumb, Roumell said nothing can replace human interaction, which is why she coordinates information fairs for new Fort Bliss families.
“I think it’s great when you have that face-to-face connection – whether it’s with the Exceptional Family Member Program, American Red Cross, or religious activities – then when you need that service, you have someone you can call, and it really makes a difference,” she said.
Even with the Centennial ballroom nearly filled to capacity, Roumell described the Qué Pasa Information Fair as small – when compared to their summer information fair.
“We usually do our big relocation fair in August, but we wanted Soldiers and family members to be able get information at the beginning of the year, rather than waiting until PCS season,” she said. “In August we usually have double the agencies. It’s also the venue where we officially welcome Soldiers and families coming here for the Sergeants Major Academy.”
Roumell said information fairs are an important part of integration. She wants Fort Bliss families to know about the on-post and off-post resources available to them during their time at Fort Bliss and El Paso.
“I think there is a direct correlation when it comes to readiness,” she said. “Just because it’s not shooting a weapon or qualifying, doesn’t mean it doesn’t support mission readiness. Events like this play a factor in preparing the Soldiers and their families. They learn about the resources in the community, and it gets them out of the house.”
The next information fair date is not set yet, but Rommel said it will take place within the first two weeks of August.