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Year in Review: strengthening community bonds

Year in Review: strengthening community bonds

Ellicott students give thank you letters and hand-made flags to a Vietnam veteran during the Ellicott School District Veteran’s Day ceremony at Ellicott, Colorado, Nov. 9, 2017. The Ellicott community event honored veterans, both past and present. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Tracy)

50th Security Forces Squadron defenders participate in the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Good Grief Camp at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, Colorado, April 1-2, 2017. The program’s mission is to provide ongoing, peer-based emotional support to anyone who is grieving the death of someone who died while serving in the Armed Forces. (Courtesy photo)

50th Security Forces Squadron defenders participate in the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Good Grief Camp at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, Colorado, April 1-2, 2017. The program’s mission is to provide ongoing, peer-based emotional support to anyone who is grieving the death of someone who died while serving in the Armed Forces. (Courtesy photo)

Year in Review: strengthening community bonds

Airmen from Schriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station prepare meals during a Kids Against Hunger volunteer event at Schriever Fitness Center, Tuesday, April 11, 2017. The mission of KAH, a humanitarian food-aid organization incorporated in 1999, is to significantly reduce the number of hungry children in the United States and to feed starving children throughout the world. (Air Force photo by Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez)

Year in Review: strengthening community bonds

Sierra Silva, Aide to Girl of the West and Jamie Tyler, Girl of the West, speak to Schriever Airmen during Top 3 Barbecue at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, June 22, 2017. The Girls of the West toured Schriever to increase awareness of the 2017 Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, July 12-15, along with raising awareness and support for local military and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by James L. Hodges)

Year in Review: strengthening community bonds

Staff Sgt. Matthew Conkey, 4th Space Operations Squadron technical order trainer, builds sandcastles with 4th and 5th grade Ellicott Elementary students at the school, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. The activity was part of Ellicott School District’s annual field days, which ran May 22-24. More than 30 Schriever Airmen volunteered at the event to reward children for their efforts during the long school year and to foster community relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright)

Year in Review: strengthening community bonds

FIRST Educators Tour attendees gather for a photo in front of the Visitor’s Center at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators. (U.S. Air Force photo/Halle Thornton)

Year in Review: strengthening community bonds

Oscar Sladek, Days of Remembrance speaker and Holocaust survivor, shares his story with the audience during Days of Remembrance at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. Sladek spoke of what he and his family endured during World War II and how they were able to survive. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chris DeWitt)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Schriever Air Force Base always aims to maintain its close relationship with the local community and 2017 was no exception.

In March, base leadership welcomed Colorado Springs community leaders at its annual State of the Base to strengthen relationships with their civic counter parts. During the State of the Base, leaders briefed 50th Space Wing missions, installation challenges and future opportunities.

“Our folks work for you in many cases,” said Col. Kueker-Murphy, 310th Space Wing commander. “We are looking at the space industry. But I can tell you, we also leverage small business owners, education, law enforcement communities. We have folks working not just here in Colorado Springs, but across Colorado.”

Schriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station volunteers prepared 40,000 meals during a Kids Against Hunger event in April. This marked the first time Schriever held a volunteer event of this kind.

“KAH has about 50 satellite centers across the United States, run by volunteers,” said Stan Sack, KAH Colorado Springs satellite director. “All the food packaging goes through one of those satellites. We package food for local use as well as ship it around the world primarily to third world countries. A KAH meal - a - day can bring a child back from starvation within 60 to 90 days.”

April was a busy month, which also involved more than 25 Schriever Airmen taking part in a Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors event at Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

The event was in honor of the Month of the Military Child. The Good Grief Camp program, a two-day event, paired children who lost family members with mentors to establish communication, maintain a military connection and to let them understand they are not alone.

“We did an activity which involved the kids taking turns sitting in the middle of a parachute,” said Staff Sgt. Ashlee Wheeler, 50 SFS Operations NCO. “We all walked around and told them we loved and supported them. It was an important reminder that even though their family member wasn’t here anymore, they are a part of the service and will always remain in the military family.”

 

Also in April, Schriever leadership participated in a Front Range Tribal Relations meeting at the Drury Inn. The purpose of the meeting was to build relationships with tribal leaders that have or may have an interest in the resources on the land encompassed by the installations of the Front Range.

Schriever emphasized community partnering with the Ellicott community. In May, more than 30 Schriever Airmen volunteered during Ellicott School District’s annual field days. Children and volunteers participated in a circuit of numerous game stations that included three-legged racing, board walking, long jumping, obstacle course and much more.

“Our Schriever volunteers are the glue of our school,” said Chris Stroph, Ellicott Elementary physical education teacher and event organizer. “I think the communication and rapport of our school and Schriever is awesome. If they weren’t here helping, it definitely would not run as smoothly. Our kids look forward to the Airmen coming out. Every one of them work hard and competes with their kids.”

In June, the base hosted the Girls of the West for a tour of base units and to highlight the annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo support to local military charities.

Team Schriever invited Oscar Sladek, a Holocaust survivor, to speak during Days of Remembrance in August. He discussed what he and his family endured during those times.

"The overall objective is to bring people’s stories to light and also show it hasn’t been eradicated,” said Tech. Sgt. Salvator Catanese, 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron Weapons and Tactics flight chief and point of contact for the event. “In today’s world, it’s easy to forget what the cost of freedom is and that not everybody has it. The way to progress forward is by remembering and learning from the past.”

 

For Sept. 11, Schriever hosted the Pikes Peak 9/11 commemoration ceremony ‘A Community Remembers.’ Front Range community members gathered here to honor the victims of 9/11.

Also in September, Airmen from Schriever joined Ellicott teachers and students at Ellicott Middle School to partake in science, technology, engineering and math oriented games, performances and puzzles. One of the highlights of the night was a chemistry show hosted by Air Force Academy professor, Ronald Furstenau, who engaged children and parents with lab experiments mixed with audience-interactions and comedy routines.

In October, Schriever hosted its annual TEDx Schriever event inviting speakers to share stories with base members. The 2017 iteration of TEDx Schriever featured three speakers who provided an opportunity for audience members to reevaluate their priorities and values.

“Hearing community leaders talk about value or other topics just brings to light so much that I could never think of myself,” said 2nd Lt. Curtis Lingenfelter, 50th Space Wing Protocol Office casual and TEDxSchriever master of ceremonies. “Being afforded the opportunity to hear from them was incredible.”

In November, Schriever Airmen, from a variety of ranks and squadrons, participated in the annual Colorado Springs Veteran’s Day Parade in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Schriever flight marched as part of the parade’s “Flight of Flags,” followed by a truck towing a statue of the 50th Space Wing Opinicus.

Also, during this time, the Ellicott community honored veterans, including Schriever Airmen, during a Veteran’s Day assembly at Ellicott High School Nov. 9.

Throughout the year, Schriever members supported game festivities, including throwing out the first pitches and singing the national anthem for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, who held several Military Appreciation Nights.

Additionally, Team Schriever demonstrated their community support through volunteer opportunities, creating care packages for deployed Airmen and the annual Angel Tree program supporting base and Ellicott families in need.

In all, Schriever hosted more than 30 community and media groups showcasing the base’s mission and facilities to more than 300 people.

As we head into 2018, the 50th Space Wing will bolster community relations by continuing to host annual events like the State of the Base, TEDxSchriever, partnering with Ellicott, as well as welcoming new opportunities on the horizon.