The Family Readiness Center at McConnell is able to accomplish many successes through its network of volunteers and through community contributions. Organized through a volunteer coordinator, volunteers are able to provide the most help to those with the most need.
“Part of the funding for the Family Readiness is government, anything that has to do with giving something away or food they don’t pay for,” said Mary Reece, director of Airman and Family Readiness at McConnell Air Force Base.
The Derby BBQ Festival is one event that helps support the center.
Family Readiness is not able to directly solicit donations or fundraise. Anyone who wants to donate or volunteer must do so by directly contacting either Family Readiness or an outside organization like Friends of Family Support to get involved.
Public support groups made up of private citizens and retired military personnel include the Golden Eagles, Friends of McConnell, and Honorary Commanders who work to bring donations and assistance into the center.
Family Readiness gets a lot of support from the Derby community and relies on those efforts to maintain stable programs and organization growth.
Many airmen have stated that the Derby community and other areas around the base are the most appreciative of those in the military service and some of the most patriotic areas they have seen.
“Derby is one of our lifelines. I want to personally thank all of the communities for welcoming our airmen. The little things people do are as big as the donations they make. The more they make our airmen feel welcome in the community, the better job they will do,” Reece said.
Reece remembers a story of one airman who, in the end, found Wichita and the area to be better than expected.
“We had one airman that came in one day and he had only been on base a week or so and I asked him what he thought of things.”
The airman responded with, “I am in Kansas and there is nothing here.”
Reece immediately told the young airman that she guaranteed that in six months, he would come back and tell her he really liked it here. He replied by telling Reece there was no way and he was going to find an exchange.
After encouraging the airman to get involved and seek out things that he enjoyed doing, he would change his mind. She told him he had to make the effort and he would find out this isn’t a bad place to be at all.
Six months almost to the day the young airman came back in and told Reece she was so right and he loved it here.
“The people are awesome, they appreciate you, and there are so many things to do,” the young airman said.
Yes, the Family Readiness Center is a place where people can help people, and a place where a person can also learn to help himself.