Army Family finds refuge at the library amid PCS & Housing Crisis
August 1, 2022
The summer move of 2022 will be one the Davies family never forgets. United Through Reading talked to the Army family about their Permanent Change of Station (PCS) journey that landed them in the middle of a housing crisis and how they found refuge in our Summer Reading Program at their post library.
Richard & Chelsea Davies packed up their children Paisley (6), Gunnar (4), a cat, a guinea pig, and the rest of their lives in the middle of June. Their loaded family camper headed northwest from Fort Benning, Georgia, to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
Their travels were complicated early on, to include some unplanned stops along their sightseeing and nature adventures across the country. Chelsea says, “It was kind of hectic because we left the house (at Fort Benning) later than planned. We had issues with the camper and truck so we stopped in Colorado because we didn’t think we would make it.”
They arrived at their final destination on the last day of June, and the waiting began. Chelsea explained, “we had been told it would take 4-6 months to secure a house on post.” However, the Davies are determined to live on post because of the cost, safety, convenience of childcare, and the sense of community that on-post living brings to military families. They didn’t consider living off base an option because of the competitive housing market in Washington.
Like many houseless military families, the Davies headed to the campground on post for the foreseeable future, a place lacking many modern conveniences, including a consistently working washer/dryer, internet, and a dishwasher. They are constantly unhooking to switch spots because they lack reservations and even had to stay in town one night. “It is tough, but we try to look on the bright side. We get to go fishing all the time, and we go to the library at least three days a week to get out of the camper,” explained Chelsea.
United Through Reading is proud to sponsor the Army MWR Library summer reading program, including the one at Joint Base Lewis McChord’s Grandstaff Library. Chelsea said, “the library and the weekly events put on this summer have given my family a purpose.”
The Davies’ kids especially loved Reptile Isle, the zoologist who works with exotic animals and interacts with them through hands-on education. “He brought about twelve animals and showed them off. He let the kids touch them and even put a snake over their shoulders. It was really neat,” Chelsea explained.
Their second favorite was a magician performing at the library. Chelsea said, “he was doing card tricks and included the kids in his tricks. He was so interactive and told jokes that we could all connect with.”
The outdoor movie night was also a big hit for the Davies family because they can’t stream television in their camper. “It was the new Hotel Transylvania movie. They played it on a big screen and handed out bags of popcorn,” Chelsea said.
Paisley and Gunnar have been reading just about every day to work towards incentives for the summer reading program. Their reading logs are hanging from the tiny fridge in the camper. Chelsea said, “I like to keep my daughter up to speed with reading so she doesn’t forget things over the summer and is prepared for first grade. My son is reading to be entertained and to learn new things.”
It is fair to say the kids have learned many things during this PCS. The Davies family hopes they’ll have housing in about a month from the time of this publication. Chelsea has been communicating with us from the laundry mat, where she has internet service. She says they will continue living in limbo daily with her grandmother’s advice in mind, “you have to be grateful for what you have.”
United Through Reading is grateful to serve military families facing the housing crisis during the PCS of 2022. Like always, we are here for you to connect through reading no matter the distance or if, like the Davies family, you are facing displacement.
Special thanks to the Spouses’ Club of Lewis-McChord, the Gottfried and Mary Fuchs Foundation, the Florence B. Kilworth Foundation, and Daniel V. and Ida J. McEachern Charitable Trust for their contributions to the summer reading program at JBLM libraries.