By Scott Prater
It’s easy to think of the Air Force Assistance Fund as simply a charity. After all, contributions go toward helping people, often times in desperate need.
However, the AFAF was designed as a way for Airmen to help other Airmen and their families in many other ways.
Take the Air Force Aid Society as an example. It helps Airmen and their families reach their educational goals through the Gen. Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program.
More than 15 years ago, a young stay-at-home mom and spouse of an active duty Airman decided she wanted to go back to college, obtain a bachelor’s degree and help others through her career. She applied for the Arnold grant and was awarded $1,500 for each year she attended.
Now Andrea Hernandez helps people through her career as a community readiness consultant here at the Airman and Family Readiness Center.
The Arnold Grant program is competitive in its need-based selection criteria and is tailored to recognize the weight of family income and education cost factors. Ms. Hernandez urged her daughter Brianna and son Andrew to apply for the Arnold Grant when they reached college age and both earned grants during their college endeavors as well. Brianna is now a Creighton University graduate and Andrew is in his second year at the University of Colorado.
Since the program’s inception 21 years ago 88,287 grants have been disbursed.
“When you start looking at the cost of college, you start to wonder how you’re going to afford it,” Ms. Hernandez said. “The Hap Arnold Grant was very helpful.”
Here at Schriever, the AFAF fundraising campaign started off slowly but has gained steam recently.
Last week, Capt. Rhett Gasaway fretted over the dismal sums he saw coming in, but he was pleasantly surprised on May 4, when he tallied up $22,000 in contributions. On May 5, a couple of squadrons turned in their receipts totaling near $9,000 and when Captain Gasaway stopped by the Space Innovation and Development Center he was greeted by unit project officers there with another $4,000.
“That put a spring in my step,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of creativity and hard work from our unit project officers. We’re amazed at the generosity of everyone who has contributed.”
Captain Gasaway estimates Schriever has now surpassed its monetary goal for the campaign and is on track to break its all time record, set in 2005.
“Our monetary goal is $34,900 and were probably $1,000 above that,” he said. “But, we need to work on our 50-percent participation goal. Right now we’re at 20 to 30 percent, but if we reach 50 percent we’ll earn a $2,500 for our A&FRC.”
The campaign was originally scheduled to end on May 7, but like several other Air Force installations, Schriever received a week long extension due to the Operational Readiness Inspection, so project officers here can accept contributions through May 13.
“We’ve been on a compressed schedule, so its saying a lot that we accomplished in four weeks what is normally done in six,” Captain Gasaway said.
The last day to contribute to the AFAF is May 13. Anyone wishing to do so is urged to contact their unit project officer.