WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
The 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing’s 718th Intelligence Squadron, based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, remains actively involved in serving the community, representing Air Force values to the public and helping those in need.
Over the last few months, 718th IS members have led the team in multiple community service efforts, including Meals on Wheels, Hampton Clean City Commission, Adopt-a-Spot and Habitat for Humanity.
718th IS Reserve Citizen Airman Tech. Sgt. Bonnie Ross is a pillar of service in the community and has played a leading role inspiring her fellow squadron members to give back to the community. Meals on Wheels has been an important cause for Ross ever since she worked at a senior living community in 2016.
“People rely on the program for their only hot meal of the day,” said Ross. “A visit from a Meals on Wheels volunteer is sometimes the only interaction these individuals have with a person all day or even week.”
Ross shared her commitment to serving seniors with her fellow Airmen, leading a team of ten 718th IS members on two occasions delivering meals to a total of 43 house-bound, low-income senior citizens living in Newport News. Ross was proud of what the team accomplished.
“I wished that more of the ageing population had access to the care they deserve. We can’t change the system by ourselves, but we can still make a huge impact on the well-being of those in need here in our community.”
Ross also partnered with fellow squadron member Master Sgt. Laren Ogle to organize a 718th IS community outreach project with the Hampton Clean City Commission. In honor of Earth Day, they coordinated a beach cleanup for the Grandview Island Nature Preserve in Hampton. Grandview Island Nature Preserve has an average of 100 visitors per day during summer weekends.
“Keeping our beaches free of debris is vital to the beach ecosystem and the ocean,” said Ogle. “This time of year the beaches are teeming with life. From small beach crabs to Osprey and the occasional Bald Eagle. This marsh and beach area provides a healthy habitat for all to enjoy.”
The team collected three bags of trash and removed several large crab traps and other large items and debris. The 13 members of the 718th IS in attendance worked hard to benefit the beach’s ecosystem and the community that enjoys it.
The 718th IS has also been in other efforts to beautify the area it calls home. Tech. Sgt. Mickey Amaro helped the squadron adopt a trail to clean and care for through the Adopt-a-Spot program. She wanted the unit to have a “consistent volunteer event that allows the squadron a sense of ownership as well as a way of staying committed to serving the local community.”
The 718th has participated in two clean-ups so far, with fantastic turnout. Each clean-up averaged 16 traditional reservists and active guard reserve. Portions of the trail are still under construction. When it is complete, the trail will connect the neighborhoods it goes through with the Coliseum Center and Air Power Park.
The 718th has also helped the people in their community. Tech. Sgt. Michelle Helms with a team of seven 718th IS members helped build three homes for Habitat for Humanity. They installed roofing, built frameworks, put up sheetrock, completed siding work, and did work on metal trimming.
“I learned that people in the 718th have lots of homebuilding skills. Even those who may have picked up a hammer for the first time or used a level for the first time that day were eager to try and to learn,” said Helms. “We all walked away learning more about ourselves, learning about our ability to work as a team in a new environment, learning a new skill, and pushing out of our comfort zone a little bit to accomplish a home for a deserving family.”
In addition to these team efforts, members of the 718th IS are engaged in numerous community service projects individually. Airman 1st Class Kyle Valerio serves as a mentor for young children at Bassette Elementary school, reading as a part of the Mayor’s Book Club to promote interest in books and literacy.
“Knowing that these children all have different lifestyles at home, yet them came into class so eager and ready to learn with happy faces, made me motivated and appreciative of what I do by helping others even if it is in the slightest way possible,” Valerio said.
The 718th IS is looking forward to continuing in these efforts to serve the community and expanding the positive impact it has.