Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Los Angeles Air Force Base
Number of Deployments: 1
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
My Military Spouse Story began after September 11, 2001, when my husband who was teaching high school math at the time felt a call to duty and began Officer Training School (OTS). Since then we've endured more than most, persevered, and embraced our Air Force lifestyle fully. My husband Chris and I have been married for over 17 years and share three amazing young men, two dogs, and a menagerie of friends and family - all whom without their support would make this life less fun, less colorful, and definitely less adventurous. As a military spouse I've experienced the full spectrum: I've had a successful corporate career in luxury property management, I've owned my own successful retail bakery, I've been a stay at home mom, and I've dedicated a lot of my free time to volunteer work with Air Force programs that support families. For the last four years I've worked tirelessly with the Los Angeles Air Force Airmen & Family Readiness Center as a Key Spouse to promote programs and resources to incoming and existing families. For the last three years I've served as board treasurer for our local little league and if I'm not at the base or at the ball field I'm most definitely on a volleyball court! Our sons have all taken after their volleyball loving parents and play volleyball for their local schools and various club teams. I am that mom from Texas cheering from the stands with her son's names on her shirt who wouldn't trade any of it for the world! We are blessed, we are living our best life in sunny Los Angeles, California (our home away from home) and we're excited for our next military adventure and where ever the Air Force takes us!
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
As an Air Force Key Spouse I find myself in multiple leadership roles within my community. I've organized and managed food drives for the Coast Guard Furlough of 2018 which directly impacted over 40 local families. I've led countless community activities and meet and greets to connect incoming families to other spouses all in an effort to promote resiliency. Through marketing and recruitment campaigns that I've led, our Key Spouse program has grown by 70%. I've organized and led volunteers for our annual Airmen Thanksgiving which directly benefited 15 displaced Airmen. I led our Holiday Cookie drive and managed over 20 volunteers to spread holiday cheer throughout our base. I currently serve as board treasurer for my local baseball little league and have raised over $160,000 in revenue for equipment and field improvement. I volunteer at the Airmen's Thrift store and have led pricing and marketing promotions that have contributed to over $40,000 in scholarships for Air Force Youth.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
Too often military spouses find themselves in new communities, not knowing anyone, and overwhelmed with hard decisions to make like: which school to send the kids, which dentists, which areas to live in, where to find employment, which extra curricular programs, which season does soccer start in, and where on Earth will I get my hair done? One of the biggest challenges is connecting families to each other and to valuable resources. As a Key Spouse, especially in a challenging market like Los Angeles where we're geographically challenged and separated in a huge metropolis city, it's more important than ever to create a sense of community and belonging. On a daily basis, I'm connecting with spouses, sharing valuable information that makes their day to day lives less stressful, and I'm creating a community of spouses on a peer-to-peer level that's positively impacting our family resiliency.
Describe how you support your community:
The best way I know how to support my community is through my volunteer work and being of service to my community. As a Key Spouse I'm constantly meeting new families and helping them navigate the tricky intricacies of living in Los Angeles. As a volunteer at the Airmen's Thrift Store I'm supporting the next generation of leaders by providing scholarships for college. Serving as board treasurer for my local baseball little league, I'm supporting a safe and fun environment for our local youth and providing new equipment and beautiful fields they'll look back on with fondness. By organizing food drives, dinners, and cookie drives, I'm ensuring the marginalized few are included and remembered during difficult times. And by growing our volunteer efforts with the Key Spouse program I'm building a legacy of support for families that desperately need it in our area.
What do you advocate for? Why?
Family Resiliency. Our greatest challenge in Los Angeles is geography, where base housing is 25 miles away from the actual base (25 miles can translate into one to two hours in traffic). Without centralized base housing, many families are spread well throughout the LA County basin. Reaching families with vital information and keeping them connected is tough, so having some background with these geographic challenges (having been stationed here before), I made it my personal mission to help families navigate this amazingly unique base. It's extremely easy to get lost, feel forgotten, and feel overwhelmed in a big metropolis. Through the Key Spouse program my mission is to connect spouses looking for employment, housing, healthcare, childcare, financial assistance, counseling, school permits, continued education, EFMP benefits, and much more to the right resources. In doing so, families can enjoy their time here instead of endure it and our community will be stronger for it.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
In working closely with the Airmen & Family Readiness Center, I've been able to create multiple outlets to promote family resiliency. Once monthly for the last three years I've promoted a monthly event where families can meet and explore Los Angeles together. I organize a once monthly Mil Spouse Book Club and I'm currently an administrator for one of our Facebook Community Pages where I'm able to reach over a thousand families and promote programs. Through quarterly training and recruitment I've grown our Key Spouse community and built a strong foundation and launching point for fellow Key Spouses to promote family resiliency. I've been invited to speak and promote the Key Spouse program at commanders All Calls. By increasing visibility and being out in the community supporting programs like Coffee in the Courtyard, KUDOS, Jingle Mingle, Backpack Brigade, Diversity Day etc., I've been able to meet countless families and help connect them to the right info and resources.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
With an AFI Military Spouse of the Year title, I'd like to reach more spouses. I'm grateful and thankful for all that I've been able to accomplish at my current installation and will carry the knowledge I've learned here with me to our next home but there's a part of me that tells me I'm not quite done. All the tools I've learned, the challenges we face in communicating with multiple generations and how we share vital information, the unique complexities of how to reach other spouses in challenging markets... I feel there's still work to be done and I'd be honored as Spouse of the Year to put the work in to help families reach their potential and enjoy their time at their current installations and embrace their Military Journey!