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PSAC: Serving Pope for 35 years

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mindy Bloem
  • 43rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
With all the various support programs Pope has available, it would be hard not to notice the overwhelming support its members receive from the local community.
A big part of this support stems from an advisory board that was formed in 1974 by a group of Fayetteville local businessmen, whose mission was to provide support to the men and women of Pope.

The original group, named the Pope Air Force Base Advisory Committee, sought ways to assist the commander and support the Pope community. Over the years changes have taken place, like the name, now dubbed the Pope Special Activities Committee, but the mission's focus has remained the same.

The 25 committee members, leading citizens from the surrounding area, pay dues to belong to this special program. The dues, along with money raised through fundraisers like the annual PSAC golf tournament, which this year alone raised more than $7,000, are used to support a number of Pope programs. The programs include the Pope Annual Awards banquet, The Pope food closet, The Little Gryphon Program, Santa's Attic, Breakfast with Santa, Holiday Food Basket Program, The Angel Tree, The Volunteer Appreciation luncheon and the Airmen's Appreciation Dinner.

"I have never served in the armed forces, and that is a choice I've always regretted," said Robert Grover, chairman of PSAC. "Serving on PSAC gives me the sense of serving now. I truly feel that our committee is making a positive difference in our Airmen and is helping our country fight this global war on terror. If we can, in some small way, ease the stress and burdens deployments and war have on them, we have achieved our mission."

On Wednesday, Mr. Grover met with two of Pope's first sergeants, Master Sgts. Danny Davis, 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, and Robert Shafer, 2nd Airlift Squadron, to give them a $1,000 check to be used in conjunction with Project Hope, a program where the first sergeants deliver Thanksgiving baskets to various Airmen.

The Airmen are usually junior ranking and may have large families to support. The Airmen don't know their names were submitted to receive the basket.

This year we're spending $4,800 for 200 baskets," Sergeant Shafer said. "These baskets hold everything for a complete Thanksgiving Day meal for the families, so it's pretty impressive. Without the support of organizations like PSAC and several others, we would not be able to do that."

Programs like PSAC go a long way toward helping our Airmen and their families, and Sergeant Shafer is thankful for these types of organization, which enables him to share in the joy of serving.

"That's why I became a first sergeant," he said. "This is the best part about our job. Every first sergeant will tell you that when you can make a difference like that, it's an awesome feeling. There are too many days when we're not able to do things like this, so when this comes around it feels really good."

Many of the members of PSAC also participate in Pope's Honorary Commanders program, making them an integral part of the Pope family. It is also not uncommon for Airmen to return home from a deployment and find members of this committee waiting at Green Ramp to welcome them home.

PSAC members volunteer countless hours and raise much needed funds to help the Pope community, and for Mr. Grover, it is all about being there for the servicemembers and establishing that relationship.

"I've had the pleasure of attending the many dinners, homecomings, and farewells, and all have touched me deeply," Mr. Grover said. "Just being with the troops is what makes it all so great and knowing the PSAC supports all these things makes me proud to be a member."

In 2008, PSAC raised more than $10,000, and for 2009, it will be more than $14,000 when all is said and done, according to Mr. Grover.

"PSAC is a true team effort," Mr. Grover explained. "Everyone pitches in to make things we do happen. Through the generosity of our members, we are capable of supporting the programs that impact our Airmen and families. We are fortunate to have such a devoted group of members who care enough about others to see the need and do something about it. I am glad to serve with them as we serve our friends at Pope."