Two volunteers, 45,000 hours of family services
By Diane Kephart, Desert Lightning News
/ Published May 18, 2007
DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Two women who volunteer at the Airmen and Family Readiness Center here have more than 80 years combined volunteer service and more than 45,000 combined volunteer hours.
Anna Kitner, Air Combat Command's only volunteer Family Services Program director, has volunteered at Davis-Monthan since 1978, but has volunteered at various military bases for 35 years and has accumulated more than 25,800 volunteer hours. She still volunteers three days at week.
Frances Archer has more than 45 years of volunteer service and more than 19,900 volunteer hours. She started volunteering at D-M in 1970 and still volunteers three days a week at D-M family services.
Her first volunteer service was at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., in 1961, "but they didn't keep volunteer records there," she said. "Family services had only been in existence for four years when I started volunteering."
Vickie Jo Ryder, installation volunteer resource manager, said, "It is amazing to me. They are so inspirational because they have given so much of themselves for so many years at an age where many are totally retired.
"They are so dedicated to serving military families that they come in three times a week all year, every year."
Ms. Kitner is the only D-M member to receive the statewide Hon Kachina award.
According to the Hon Kachina website, "The mission of the Hon Kachina Council is to inspire volunteerism by recognizing ordinary individuals doing extraordinary things, applauding them and presenting them as an example to motivate others to volunteer."
One of Ms. Kitner's duties is supervising the loan closet. They give 30-day loans of household items to help military families when their household goods arrive at D-M later than they do.
"There is a need and our military people need support when they are reassigned and moving. Everyone in the family needs to get reoriented to the new location," she said the demand for loan closet items is highest in the summer because most reassignments occur during the summer months to allow an easier transition before school starts in the fall.
"There is a great need to help our military families and it's very gratifying to know I have helped them in some way," Ms. Kitner said.
They also loan items to retirees or to those at D-M on temporary duty assignment.
"Grandparents no longer have baby equipment so we loan it to them when the grandchildren visit," she said. "Someone here TDY may only need to borrow a few dishes."
Ms. Archer helps assemble welcome packets for military making a permanent change of station to D-M. These include the base directory, maps, welcome letters, and a CD Rom of information. She gives them to those designated by each unit to come and pick them up.
She also keeps the volunteer hours board updated each quarter with the cumulative volunteer hours.
Ms. Kitner said, although she has many memories from volunteering, some are a little more special to her. When she was in Hawaii, she was one of the volunteers who met with families arriving to accept the remains of fallen soldiers.
"Sometimes, I would just take their child for a walk. Let him get some exercise and give them a little break," she said. "We were carefully screened so we could support the families."
She also was one of the volunteers in Hawaii who met prisoners of war returning home. She remembers serving cookies and punch to Sen. John McCain when he and other POWs got off of the aircraft.
She still exchanges Christmas cards with many of the families she has served at D-M over the years.
Both ladies encourage everyone to volunteer.
Ms. Kitner said, "There is always somebody who needs help. You can find them, perhaps, in your neighborhood, (or) at church, so keep your eyes and ears open."
"At the end of the day, you may be tired. But when you look back at what you did during the day, you were able to help people and it is worth it."
355th Wing Commander Col. Kent Laughbaum said, "We couldn't be successful without volunteers. I'm so thankful we have Americans like (them) who volunteer their service. May God continue to bless those who serve, and our country."