BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --
The fall season is just around the corner, and with that in mind, a 455th Air Expeditionary Wing chaplain and his assistant, deployed here from Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., wasted little time in organizing an event to spruce up the Airman Ministry Center Aug. 16 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
The two facilitated a 'Spring Cleaning in the Fall' volunteer effort and sent out an email requesting assistance. The message provided general information about the help they needed, and they anticipated just enough people would participate to help them out.
They had no idea the response they were about to generate would be quite abundant.
"When we originally sent an email out, we were hoping to get at least a few responses, maybe four or five; but we received almost 30 responses from Airmen wanting to help," said Staff Sgt. Lowell Wann, 455th AEW chaplain assistant, who hails from Odessa, Mo.
The chaplain and his assistant asked for help with some general cleaning and sought ongoing volunteers who wanted to pitch in on a weekly basis to help mop, dust and remove trash.
Volunteers also came from within the facility when a couple service members from 183rd Security Forces Squadron National Guard, who share the building with the chaplains, pitched in to help.
It was truly our pleasure to help the chaplains with their improvements and reorganization," said Master Sgt. John Van Pelt, 183rd Security Forces Squadron National Guard NCO in charge of Echo Sector, deployed from and a native of Springfield, Ill.
"It has been a blessing being collocated with the Eastside Chaplain's Office; the support they provide our defenders with the 24-hour access to phones and computer services, along with daily refreshments such as coffee and cold water, has an immeasurable effect on their morale. Add in the facilities for quiet reflection and the occasional taste of home and it was sincerely our honor to help," Van Pelt said.
Make no mistake, this was no small project. Yet with so many volunteers participating, the cleanup's intent was met and served a far greater purpose.
"Our cleaning of the ministry center is two-fold," said Chaplain (Maj.) Gary Coburn, 455th AEW deputy wing chaplain, a native of Prattville, Ala. "One reason is to clean up and organize what we already have, including movies, games, books and toiletries.
"The other reason is to provide space for our new ministry center interfaith meditation and prayer room. This space will be for those on the flightline who just need to get away for a few minutes of quiet time," Coburn said. "It will also be used for classes we'll be teaching, as well as for communion on Sundays for those who can't make it to services in one of our chapels."
Some of the bigger projects volunteers helped with included:
- Reorganizing the ministry center entry way's freebies: books, toiletries, etc.
- Assisting in making, and rearranging a one-room interfaith and quiet meditation room
- Rearranging another room to be better suited for hanging out and organizing games and movies
- Performing necessary handy work with bracing temporary privacy walls near the morale phones
- Moving and rearranging the facility's wall art