July 1, 2021
Service members and their families face challenges unlike anyone else – deployments, separations, long trainings. On a more positive note, banners happily announcing a homecoming are common, moves are second nature, and military children share a bond that is impossible to replicate in the civilian population.
In fact, the sense of community on an installation is one of the primary benefits residents often seek when living on post. The neighbors down the street, next-door, and in school all understand the excitement and stresses of the military lifestyle.
“We strive for our residents to be happy in their house, but we also want them to feel like they are in their home away from home,” said Holly Costello, senior vice president of Corvias Property Management. “The military life is extremely transient, but it does not mean you shouldn’t be part of a community.”
The Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI), a program that provides private companies, such as Corvias, an opportunity to manage military homes, was originally established in 1996 to improve housing conditions and to better instill the feeling of community. The Department of Defense realized the direct connection between the lack of community and poor retention among military members and overall dissatisfaction with military life among their families.
One report discovered a similar cause and effect. Stanford University assistant professor and social psychologist Gregory Walton conducted a study that found those who do not feel they belong in a community are less likely and less motivated to power through difficult periods, similar to those often felt in the military and, most recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A strong local support network became even more significant when COVID-19 struck. Schools were closed and social distancing became the standard way of life. Neighbors suddenly became the extended family everyone needed. A friendly wave or conversation from a safe distance across the street was significant to maintaining mental and emotional well-being.
Corvias makes every effort to ensure on-post families feel like they are part of the community with amenities that promote hobbies, interests, and family-friendly fun. Residents who live on post are invited to routinely use these amenities to help them integrate into the community:
- Community centers provide residents with space to socialize and swim with friends and family. This amenity also serves as a central location for residents to seek help from the Corvias team when necessary. Each center is a reliable place for home maintenance assistance and to find a friendly, familiar face.
- Resident events are an amenity that the entire family will enjoy. Movie nights and carnivals are just a few of the many opportunities for neighbors to gather.
- Playgrounds are found throughout the community to encourage families to get to know one another. Children who are new to the community will find this amenity especially enjoyable and is a great way to meet their peers when first arriving at post.
- The Bark Park is a central location for dog lovers to forge bonds and begin friendships.
- The community garden provides families an opportunity to explore the art of gardening surrounded by their fellow neighbors. Parents and children often garden together, where they can teach the art of growing flowers and produce while surrounded by their community’s own harvest. Some community gardeners even share a plot with a neighbor or friend for a true bonding experience.
These amenities are certain to bring on-post residents together. Neighbors are rarely strangers, and families are often friends and serve as an integral part of each other’s support syste.
When service members and their families live off post, the strong sense of community is not typically present. A study conducted from 2019 to 2020 by Ownerly discovered that 1 in 4 people 39 years old or younger do not know their neighbors by name.
“Everything we do is with community in mind,” says Costello. “Our Corvias office teams are there for them during the good and bad, and we believe their neighbors are too.”