by monica mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Airman 1st Class Jessica Hines arrived on Peterson Air Force Base — her first duty station — just before the holidays last year. And like most new Airmen, she didn’t know anyone outside her office.
Her supervisor invited her to Christmas dinner and she was grateful. But, away from home and her family, she couldn’t help but feel she was missing out on holiday fun.
“I was alone in the dorms for most of the holiday season,” said Airman Hines, a 21st Space Wing Public Affairs specialist.
It seemed, to her, that a lot of other Airmen living in the dormitories spent their holidays the same way – missing out on the family activities that are part of the holiday season.
“Being away from home during the holidays is a common reality for many in the military, we don’t always have the option to go home, whether it’s a first term Airman or a family missing a loved one who is deployed; but there’s no reason to miss out on those family traditions so many of us have and share,” she said.
This year, Airman Hines and Senior Airman Jennifer Fox, 21st Space Wing executive assistant to the command chief, are launching an Adopt-an-Airman 2010 Holiday Season program. They are hoping that Air Force families will reach out to single Airmen in the dorms and invite them to participate in their holiday family events, which could include dinner, building a snowman, decorating the tree or caroling.
Airmen will be matched with families from units other than their own in an effort to broaden friendships.
“We are happy to start this new program in hopes of giving Airmen in the dorms a chance to have a home away from home, while giving Peterson families a chance to expand their own Air Force family for the holidays,” Airman Fox said.
The Airmen are hopeful that the program goes beyond dinner. Some families might be interested in including Airmen in their family traditions, such as driving around to see holiday lights or shopping.
“We are leaving it up to the families to decide how involved they want to be with their adopted Airman,” Airman Fox said.
There are also holiday and religious considerations in the matching of Airmen and families. Airmen can sign up for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Chanukah.
The program is for the families too, Airman Hines said. She hopes families will want to connect with young Airmen and get to know the next generation of the Air Force.
“I’m already hearing from families who want to participate,” Airman Hines said. “They’ve got kids in college who are coming home for the holidays and they know how it feels for someone to be away from their family for the holidays.”
n Sign-up sheets for Airmen are in the Peterson dormitories through the dorm managers. Anyone interested in being a host family can contact Airman Fox at 556-2107 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and Airman Hines at 556-8526 or email@example.com.