Progress

Connections 2017

Goldsboro News Argus - Progress Edition

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38 MAKING IT 'BETTER' ONE CLUB AT A TIME Airmen on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base come from all walks of life and all parts of the coun- try. While this level of diver- sity helps the Air Force by drawing from a wide talent pool, it can also lead to relocated airmen frequent- ly ending up in unfamiliar places without the kind of social support or things to do afforded to those who stay in one place. To combat this, on Oct. 24, 2014, SJAFB intro- duced the Make it Better program, which features a collection of airman-led clubs designed to help bring airmen together out- side of work. Now, just over two years since its inception, new MiB president Senior Mas- ter Sgt. Patrick Schroeder said that the program has done just that and more. "Really, the goal of the project was just trying to find a way to bring people together," he said. "One of the most common things we hear when people get here – or any other Air Force base, really – is that there's nothing to do. So it's about trying to find an outlet for those peo- ple." Schroeder said that some airmen may have an easier time finding common ground with each other. Someone who enjoys football, for instance, is likely to find plenty of other peo- ple interested in playing the game or watching games together. For others with more specific interests, however, it can be dif- ficult to know where to start looking for people with similar hobbies. So, Schroeder said, when then-commander Brig. Gen. Mark Slocum first brought forth the idea for the MiB program, it hinged on one central idea. "The concept was, 'what's your thing?'" Schroeder said. "What is unique to you, what interests you that either isn't here or that you don't know is here." Since then, the program has expanded into 128 clubs, covering topics from cooking and reading to home brewing and board gam- ing. Creating easy ways for airmen who move around frequently to form interpersonal bonds is key for keeping airmen committed to the mission. "It improves morale," Schroeder said. "And, although it's often kind of a cliched word, morale is vitally important to how long you can continue a mission and stay effective. "This gives a lot of people a way to feel connected to other people. More so than just coming in and doing the job 9 to 5," he said.0 Catherine Quinlan, president of the SJAFB Book Club, said in a January interview that the bonds formed through MiB clubs are valuable to those looking for a sense of family. "The connections are really what's important about the club, and about the entire Make it Better program," she said. "I think every- one needs that kind of community." Schroeder became the Make it Better club fairs are organized throughout the year to give groups a chance to connect with potential new members. Story by JOEY PITCHFORD Photos by CASEY MOZINGO See MIB, Page 40 Life on a military instillation can be difficult for those away from their families for the first time, or who've moved to an area unfamiliar to them. Make It Better clubs can help ease the transition.

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