173rd Resiliency Operations Center fosters community, connects Airmen

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

Kingsley Field’s sense of community goes back a long way, perhaps to its inception as a WWII training base in the late 40s. Since that time, it’s always been a small, rural community in a landscape surrounded by mountains and a basin floor dotted with alfalfa and potato fields. Maybe this is why the base populace seems like a family affair, at least when compared to a typical nine-to-five.

The 173rd Fighter Wing is proud of this, and sponsors events designed to keep that alive: family days, marriage enrichment, cooking and nutrition classes, school supply drives, luncheons—activities that bring Airmen together and help them foster connection.

That focus on community also brought about a new approach to the “helping services” at the wing; called the Resiliency Operations Center—the wing has located all of them under one roof.

It made sense in simple, practical terms when it was conceived two years ago. Since then, the wing remodeled an older building creating a modern space with a full kitchen—used for healthy cooking classes and other demonstrations—classroom space, offices and storage.

Cecily Gaudinski, Airman and Family Readiness Center Manager, describes the “ROC” (the wing nickname for Resiliency Operations Center) saying, “it’s a place where if you need anything you can come through the door, and someone will be there to help. It might not be Airman and Family Readiness, but I will walk you over to the Chaplain or to our SARC and connect you to that person—that warm hand-off.”

She went on to say that in the past these services were at various places on-base and if a person wasn’t at their desk when someone walked in it felt like a closed door; the likelihood of this happening today is essentially zero.

In that way the ROC is more responsive, but the space itself is paying unexpected dividends.

There is a coffee maker and coffee bar, there are table and chairs for eating, there is a refrigerator with soft drinks. The staff have worked to make the space inviting, and it seems a consensus is forming, “it’s fun to stop by the ROC” wing Airmen say.   

Gaudinski says individuals who need help come in and so do supervisors and first sergeants, getting information in the event one of their Airmen needs it.

“People can come through the door for help,” says Gaudinski.  “But we’ve also got the food trucks out here, it’s a place where you can eat your lunch and just hang out, we have our snack bar, and our kitchen.”

The idea being that by inviting base Airmen into the space for a variety of reasons, making them comfortable, is an effective tool to keep the Kingsley culture of community operating, passed on person-to-person, face-to-face. 

Gaudinski says this personal connection is key for the ROC, using a personal financial counselor class as an example.  “We put out an email, ‘hey, this is a huge, free resource we have, please sign up,’ and nobody signed up.”

She then asked Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Lastra, the readiness NCO, to extend some personal invitations to people around base, which he did, and the result was dramatic.

“Our financial counselor over September drill couldn’t even catch a breath, he couldn’t even eat his lunch because he had so many one-on-one classes,” she said.

The space is also being utilized more often for meetings and briefings. The Fire Department has opted to teach CPR there instead of at the firehouse, and the ROC  hosted the most recent newcomers briefing during the September drill.

“The door never stopped opening, the phone never stopped ringing, the chaplain had his class on Sunday, we had our newcomers brief,” she said. “It was the busiest drill we’ve had and I left feeling successful, like we made a difference.”

The Resiliency Operations Team are making a point to further develop that face-to-face connection, most recently going to a maintenance “burger burn”, meeting maintainers on the flightline.

“We threw our tent up and just took some of our swag and flyers, just being there we got to see 200 members on the maintenance side that we rarely get to see,” said Gaudinski. 

 She says the thing that makes this successful is, “That sense of community.”

The ROC continues hosting events that bring Airmen together: from Strong Bonds Marriage Enrichment, to nutrition training and cooking demonstrations, to exercise physiology training and cutting-edge Run-DNA evaluations. The list goes on to include financial counseling and programs for families of deployed Airmen and many, many others.

Gaudinski says the best way to stay abreast of all the offerings is to use the ROC QR Code  found on flyers and newsletters around the base.  This link is updated constantly with the latest events and classes being offered by the Resiliency Team. 

And when you come by for a class or just to see what’s going on in the ROC, you’ll probably leave with a good cup of coffee and a smile on your face.