The children of New Mexico's Baptist Children's Home in Portales have extended family in the Air Force.
Cannon Air Force Base members are putting forth an effort to be big brothers and sisters in the lives of the residents at the children's home, many of whom come from troubled circumstances.
Staff members at the children's home, serving children of all ages, say that the children feel loved and welcome anytime they interact with military members from Cannon and now airmen at Cannon want to extend that relationship.
"They have been such a blessing to us, and we're happy to have them as a part of our ministry," said Teresa Howard, the children's home public relations official, about Cannon
For several years, Cannon has hosted a Christmas party for the children's home. In addition to the party, Cannon officials plan to become more involved in the lives of the children through activities and mentorship.
Recently, the children were invited on base to attend a pool party. House parents said that the children feel special when they're invited on base.
Bill Marker, campus director of the children's home, said the children love opportunities that allow them to interact with community members outside of the home.
"They don't get an opportunity to enjoy this kind of thing (pool party)," Marker said. "They are able to interact with the community and feel like regular kids."
Marker added one of their favorite trips to the base that the children rave about, was when they got to tour Cannon's aircraft.
"They felt real special getting to see some of the things the average civilian doesn't get to see," Marker said.
Chaplain Joshua Payne with Cannon Community Chapel is excited for Cannon's involvement with the home. Prior to the pool party, a few airmen painted some of the cottages and did service projects that the home's staff may not have time to complete.
"Our plan is to work together to help them out," Payne said. "This is an opportunity to take care of them."
Airman Justin Eustace has been active in helping build the relationship with the children's home. He's helped paint cottages and worked to get their ball field in shape.
"I know it's a great cause," said Eustace about working with the home. "I just wanted to give back to the community.
Eustace said the pool party was a real starting off point to developing personal relationships with the children.
"There's not a lot of mentorship in their lives outside of the home," Eustace said. "In the long run, it's good to have (additional mentors)."
Howard said the children look forward to the ongoing relationship with the base.
"They love it, they're just so excited anytime (Cannon officials) come to campus," Howard said. "They're really impressed by the men and women of the armed forces."