Stuttgart Arts and Crafts program named best in Army

For the third year running, the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation department’s Arts and Crafts program has been named best in the Army for large garrisons.

The award, announced at the end of September, followed on the heels of the program’s regional victory, when it won the Outstanding Recreation Program for Arts and Crafts award from Installation Management Command-Europe.

Kelly Sarles, garrison Arts and Crafts program director, attributes its success to the variety of craft options offered and professional staff.

“It’s our diversity,” she said. “We keep up with the latest trends and we’re always changing to meet the needs of our customers.”

In both the regional and Army-level competitions, new improvements and additions are a major factor in determining the best program, Sarles said. This year, USAG Stuttgart’s program has several.

The Patch Multi-Crafts Center on Patch Barracks added a coffee bar to its store and started Art & Espresso, a boutique-style craft bazaar event that allows customers to buy gifts and observe artwork over coffee. The center also installed a new photo and scrapbooking kiosk.

The crafts center also provided new classes this year, including two international cooking classes, a digital photography course and off-site pottery painting.
There’s more to the Arts and Crafts program than the Patch Multi-Crafts Center, however.

In fact, the Kelley Woodshop on Kelley Barracks is “part of the reason why we win every year,” Sarles said. The woodshop boasts the latest in machinery, including planers and saws, as well as an experienced staff. Mike Quantrell, master carpenter, has been working at the shop for 27 years.

He attributes the success of the woodshop and Arts and Crafts program to its open and friendly atmosphere. “Everybody helps everybody,” he said. “It feels like home.”

For Mira Reeves, civilian spouse, visiting the woodshop is an almost-daily routine. “It’s the best-kept secret in Stuttgart,” she said. So far, Reeves has built a bed, bookshelves, and two coat racks. Now, she is finishing a night stand. “It’s just nice to create and know that it will be an heirloom,” she added.

While they can work at their own pace, customers can always ask questions of Quantrell and his co-workers.

In fact, Quantrell added, every crafting facility in Stuttgart has highly-qualified staff members. “The whole team at MWR is supportive, with wide areas of experience and skills that you can call upon,” he said.

To stay on top of their field, many Arts and Craft employees receive specialized training, and class instructors continue to learn new skills, Sarles said. “They are always learning and growing and passing that on to the community. You don’t have that everywhere.”

While winning the Army-level award is exciting, Sarles said, she doesn’t plan to rest on her laurels. “We’re always looking for new ways to improve because we’re never willing to just stay with the status quo.”