Hill AFB Youth Center gets face-lift

The front entrance to the Hill AFB Youth Center is safer now, thanks to the efforts of 30 Air Force Reservists and Air National Guardsmen who repaired and refurbished the area as part of a community outreach project.

The Guardsman and Reservists are temporarily working for the 309th Commodities Maintenance Group and did the work on recently as a team-building project.

“They spent a half-day working at the youth center,” said Lt. Col. James Caviness, 309th CMXG deputy director. “The kids enjoyed watching them work, the guys enjoyed the kids and the work made the area safer. It’s win-win-win all around.”

After Kelly Capener, 309th CMXG director, suggested a project to help the Hill AFB community, Caviness called the Youth Center, asking if it needed help with any projects. Cherokee Johnson, youth program director, jumped at the chance.

“I never turn down free help, especially when 30 guys are available to do it,” Johnson said. “They were amazing.”

Work at the center, located in Building 883, across the street from the dog park, included landscaping, pulling up lava rocks and replacing them with better stone, leveling the ground, building a brick retaining wall for water runoff around entry steps, and planting roses and other greenery.

“Where they built the retaining wall, every time it rained, mud from the hill flowed down into the lava rock and over the sidewalk,” Johnson said. “It was a safety issue during the winter, especially when it snowed and people walked on it.”

The 30 Guardsmen and Reservists were divided into four groups and got the job finished by noon, even though it was planned as an all-day project.

“What they did in three hours would have taken us three weekends to complete,” Johnson said. “They really cleaned up the area and did a lot of things we couldn’t do ourselves.”

The Guardsmen and Reservists also provided security as the kids arrived and left to escort them through the work area, Caviness said, and also tilled up another area so the kids could plant their own garden.

“We had so many talented maintainers that we were able to accomplish the task early,” Caviness said. “It was good to see them working as a team. We decided to help others for our team-building activity instead of going bowling or holding a cookout.”

The Guardsmen and Reservists are filling a temporary manpower shortage in CMXG.

“Since it takes 180 to 200 days to get new people in, we asked them to backfill before we get our full-time civilian associates,” Caviness said. “We have some from South Carolina, West Virginia, Michigan, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Delaware, California, Florida, Texas — a smattering from all over the United States.”

He explained that they were recruited to work in commodities areas such as F-16 armament, A-10 loaders, fuels, tanks and pylons, hydraulics/pneudraulic actuators and landing gear.

“In their regular jobs, they’re policemen, firemen, mechanics, teachers and more. They’re super talented and when you put them together as a team, there is nothing they can’t accomplish.”

CMXG hopes to extend its outreach in the coming months and do additional work in communities outside the base.

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