Thursday, April 18, 2013

TOP STORY>>Pay it forward

By Airman 1st Class Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Every year bluesuiters open their wallets and hearts by donating to the Air Force Assistance Fund drive. This year, Team Little Rock members went above and beyond to support their fellow wingmen and their families.

Most unblinkingly give without ever expecting to need a helping hand from the attribution.

Joleen Baker, 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron secretary, knows the impact the AFAF can have on Airmen and their families when they are in need. Joleen has helped the AFAF generate more than $650,000 for the Air Force Assistance Fund in the past six years. “They helped our family, so I want to help them,” Joleen said.

Joleen and her husband, Staff Sgt. Joshua Baker, a 50th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, were helped by the AFAF shortly after the birth of their son, Jimmy, in 2007. While stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan, they were the first family in memory to have a baby born with cleft lip and cleft palate at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Okinawa. As a young family, the entire situation was daunting and they didn’t really know where to turn.

The Bakers went to Joshua’s first sergeant and learned that the AFAF was there to help them out.

Along with first sergeants, there are multiple avenues on base such as chaplains and the Airmen and Family Readiness Center for Airmen to receive resourceful information.

“It’s overwhelming to know that our Airmen put so much money into a program that helps other Airmen,” Joleen said.

The Bakers received a medical grant for more than $3,500, which meant there was no payback required. The funds were used to help pay for expenses for Jimmy to be seen by specialists at Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii.

Joleen is proud to serve with such selfless givers.

“When you give to the AFAF, you are helping military families,” she said. “You never know when the Airman in the cubicle next to you or sitting next to you at commander’s call will need help.”

Senior Master Sgt. Eric Holland one of the main points of contact said, “Despite the economy’s financial struggles our Airmen have expanded their generosity and exceeded last years goal.”

The AFAF has four organizations to which you can donate: the Air Force Aid Society, Lemay Foundation, Air Force Enlisted Village, Air Force Villages Charitable Foundation.

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