ACS hosts coffee hour to connect foreign spouses

FORT BELVOIR – Va. - In a bid to foster a sense of community and support for foreign-born spouses, Army Community Services held its latest program initiative: the International Coffee Hour on Jan. 22. This event serves as a multicultural support group, inviting foreign spouses to gather, network, receive support, and connect with others over a delightful spread of coffee and light refreshments.

With an increasing number of military families hailing from diverse cultural backgrounds, the International Coffee Hour aims to create an inclusive space where foreign-born spouses can find solace, build relationships, and navigate the challenges of adapting to a new country.

"We understand the unique struggles faced by foreign spouses who relocate to unfamiliar surroundings," said Michelle Lawerence, Relocation Coordinator, ACS Fort Belvoir.

"The International Coffee Hour is designed to provide a supportive environment where individuals from different cultures can come together, share experiences, and form lasting connections,” said Kathy Giop, Relocation Specialist, ACS Fort Belvoir.

The International Coffee Hour is held on the 3rd Monday of every month from 1 – 3 p.m. The program serves as a platform for promoting cultural understanding and appreciation within the military community.

Participants are encouraged to share their cultural traditions, customs, and cuisines, to ignite conversations that break down stereotypes and foster a deeper understanding of different cultures. By celebrating diversity, the program seeks to contribute more inclusive environments for all military families.

“It's about fostering a sense of belonging and understanding within our military community,” said Kathy.

The program offers a variety of opportunities for foreign-born spouses to share insights, advice, and resources. From discussing cultural nuances to recommending local services and sharing language learning tips, participants can tap into a wealth of knowledge from fellow foreign spouses who understand their unique journey.

"Being able to connect with others who share similar experiences creates a sense of solidarity and makes the transition to Fort Belvoir much smoother,” said Sarah Mayflower, a foreign-born spouse who has been an active participant in ACS programs.

“We want the International Coffee Hour to be a safe and welcoming environment for foreign spouses to receive support and encouragement”, added Lawerence.

Trained staff and volunteers are readily available to address any concerns, offer guidance, and provide access to resources that can assist in their integration process. From practical advice on navigating local services to emotional support during challenging times, the program ensures that participants have the necessary tools to thrive in their new surroundings.

"The International Coffee Hour offers an invaluable opportunity for foreign spouses to network and build a support system," said Mayflower.

“Programs like this helps break down barriers and foster a sense of unity," added Mayflower.

For foreign-born spouses seeking support, networking opportunities, and camaraderie, the International Coffee Hour offers an inviting space to connect, share, and thrive.

The ACS encourages all interested individuals to join this multicultural support group and embark on a journey of empowerment, understanding, and friendship.

The next International Coffee Hour will be held Tuesday, Feb.20, at ACS from 1 – 3 p.m. To register call 571-231-7001

By: Tiana Waters

USAG Fort Belvoir Public Affairs Office