TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
A new year brings resolutions, goals and changes. People often view a new year as a chance to hit a reset button, while others focus on self-improvement or job progression. Whatever it is, there is something about a new year that instills a sense of positivity and growth.
For Tech. Sgt. Jeremi Isaacs, 552nd Maintenance Squadron, he divided his 2018 goals into quarterly milestones. From there, he considered different opportunities that involved his own unit in the radar backshop.
“In accordance with Air Force Instruction and structure, my first big goal involved doing something for the base and for myself. The idea was to do more in the community and be a leader in all aspects, not just in the workplace. It’s important for me to give back to the Air Force since it has given so much to me,” Isaacs said.
With a two-year-old son at the Child Development Center, the wheels started turning on various project ideas, as he performed drop-off and pick-up duty.
“My son is at CDC East, so I knew the staff there and knew the environment,” said Isaacs. “Wanting to provide a safe environment for people who support the mission, I just asked their director (Lisa Kouri-Perraut) if they needed anything and what my unit could contribute.”
A week after initial contact, Isaacs had a laundry list of items that needed repairs or upgrades. He spearheaded a volunteer project for his squadron to take part in, and with no out-of-pocket expenses, everything came to fruition quickly. Sanding down tricycles, installing mirrors in classrooms and changing lightbulbs were among the priorities, and Isaacs facilitated the rest.
In taking a more involved approach, Isaacs, who is the noncommissioned officer in charge in the radar backshop, reached out to the 109 Airmen in his squadron. Thirty-two participated in the project, which was more than Isaacs had anticipated.
“We did have some cold weather constraints which kept us from doing some of the work outside, such as moving sand and equipment and installing gates. But even so, we had more able bodies and ended up sending a few Airmen over to CDC West,” Isaacs said.
Allowing for facilities to operate in the most efficient way possible, the volunteer project provided manpower and time for items that needed attention. Items that, requiring cost, contracts or overhead could have taken months to complete. Simple tasks were completed in a four-hour time frame that simultaneously helped the CDC improve its facility, as well as allow for employees to focus entirely on child care.
Isaacs said this was only the beginning of what he hoped would be a domino effect.
“Ideally, each squadron could sponsor a CDC and become their resource or their handyman, so-to-speak. That way, sections will be able to assist readily whenever something comes up,” Isaacs said “We know the mission and the work side of things so well, that sometimes we lose sight of our community involvement. When we deploy, we become so dependent on one another because that’s what we have. Separated from our families and our home bases, we really depend on each other and that is very useful. It’s important that we come home and maintain that, and we don’t just settle in to what is comfortable.”
Volunteering at the CDC was just the launching pad for what Isaacs hopes to become more widespread. Many are keen to volunteer, but aren’t always aware of resources or opportunities available. Starting small, but leaving a lasting impression, the CDC renovation project could generate further volunteer projects in the future.
Airman 1st Class Jeffrey Coats, 552nd Maintenance Squadron, hopes more opportunities to volunteer arise.
“I would love to do something like that again, or just having the chance to volunteer more often would be an interesting proposition,” Coats said. “I assumed there were janitors that handled the little odds and ends, but to be able to help out with small tasks and to see how appreciative they were was an amazing feeling.”
The NCOIC encourages his troops to find a purpose, find something that motivates them and maintains the core values of being an Airman: practicing excellence in all you do, and service before self.
“We can’t shut down operations every week,” Isaacs said. “But if there is something that they are passionate about, we can see what we can do to support them, and as a result we are giving back to others and giving back to the community.”