By Darrell Todd Maurina
The Clovis public school system receives extensive volunteer help from many parents and grandparents of students in the schools, but some of the volunteers come from a group that may not have any family connections to the community — airmen at Cannon Air Force Base.
For 2nd Lt. Jay Edison of the 27th Logistics Readiness Squadron, volunteering in schools is a way to build ties with the community.
“It’s really helped me learn more about Clovis and where they need volunteers to help out,” Edison said. “I enjoy doing it, it’s a great program for the military and for Clovis.”
Edison said his volunteer work includes reading programs and different science projects for Clovis elementary and junior high school students. When possible, he comes to schools in uniform to show students that the Air Force encourages volunteer work.
“I’m really proud of the work the (Air Force) folks have done here at Cannon,” said Ellen Saccoia-Smith, who coordinates volunteer activities as part of her duties at the Cannon Family Support Center.
Saccoia-Smith said part of the reason Cannon airmen volunteer to support Clovis events is because Clovis organizations often work hard to support Cannon.
“There is so much support here for the base. I’ve been in areas where that support is not there, and volunteering is a way of giving back and saying thanks,” Saccoia-Smith said. “I think it is a wonderful opportunity to make a positive difference.”
Edison, who spent 10 years in the Navy as an enlisted sailor before becoming a commissioned officer in the Air Force last year, said he views his school mentoring as an opportunity to provide a positive role model of how discipline and hard work pay off.
“Mentoring really helps,” Edison said. “In the military we do a lot of training. The drill helps the kids look into being a role model.”
Some of the Air Force personnel at Cannon are able to help students learn specific skills.
“I had Airman 1st Class Jay Allen in the Communications Squadron; he was really good with building Web pages,” Saccoia-Smith said. “He actually worked helping students with computers and Web design.”
Edison said one added benefit of military volunteering in schools is that they often can share their experiences from nations all around the world with students who may never have had the opportunity to travel.
“I noticed that a lot of the (school) volunteers who showed their souvenirs from other countries were either military or former military,” Edison said. “We are so diverse and have all kinds of cultures in the military.”