Fort Hood Family Housing partnered with Blue Star Families, “Moving with the Military” and Facebook to deliver 864 Facebook Portals to housing residents throughout April and May through a “Portal on Your Porch” campaign.

“Facebook provided Blue Star Families with $1 million worth of Facebook Portals to give away at events across the country, but unfortunately due to social distancing restrictions, these events were cancelled,” Staci Burton, assistant marketing manager of communities for Lendlease, explained. “Eager to help, ‘Moving with the Military’ brought the partnership opportunity to Fort Hood Family Housing, so together, we were able to distribute nearly 900 Facebook Portals to many of our military families across the community, providing them with a great resource to connect with their loved ones, near and far.”

Maria Reed, an Army spouse who is executive producer, host and editor of the Fort Hood-based home improvement show, “Moving with the Military,” said the show partnered with Blue Star Families on several occasions, so when they asked her to team up once again, she jumped at the chance to help support military families in this way.

“Being away from family and friends is something that military families understand far too much and then you add the social distancing with COVID-19, it compounded the isolation effect that many military families feel,” Reed said. “Delivering the Facebook Portals was a bright moment in these challenging times and the military families were so grateful for the kindness.”

Facebook Portal is a smart display device designed to keep people connected through video chat. Integrated with Alexa, Amazon’s voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service, the devices can zoom and track a person’s movement during a video chat.

With the understanding of military transitions and deployments, Burton said she hopes military families will be able to remain connected with the devices. She also hopes the devices will ease the stress of social distancing by allowing people to connect with each other through the Portals.

“The Facebook Portals provide these military families with a great resource to connect with their loved ones near and far during these challenging times,” Burton said. “Now more than ever, it’s important that we continue to find meaningful ways for our residents to connect with one another and know we are still here for them.”

As a military spouse, who has been through five deployments with her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Reed, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regt., 1st Cav. Division, Reed said she believes the Facebook Portals will be a blessing to families during deployments, especially being able to share life’s firsts, such as first steps, first words or first day of school.

“I think military families will use these during deployments, PCS moves, and all their military life moments,” she said, knowing that although people cannot always be there in person, “We can be there virtually.”

Housing residents registered for the Facebook Portal’s at Lendlease’s Fort Hood Family Housing Facebook page, with the Portals given out on a first-come, first-served basis, limited to one Portal per household.

Reed said the delivery of the devices became a family affair, as her two teenage children helped organize the distribution of the devices throughout the installation. Reed said seeing the reactions of the housing residents was greatest fulfillment.

“We have a few that danced, and smiled and were simply so grateful,” she said. “Our hearts were full that we could help military families find joy and stay connected. It was pretty awesome.”

A video of the Portal delivery has been posted to the “Moving with the Military” Facebook page, www.facebook.com/movingwiththemilitary.

Burton said Lendlease has been working to implement a series of virtual engagement opportunities for its residents, so this is another way to reach out virtually and let them know they care. For more information about Lendlease’s upcoming virtual engagement opportunities, visit www.facebook.com/forthoodfh