Moody AFSA serves community, membership rises

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Brianca Williams
  • 23 Wing Public Affairs
(Editor's note: The mention of the nonprofit organizations Wounded Warrior Project, Ronald McDonald House, Air Force Enlisted Village, and Nine Line Foundation does not constitute endorsement or affiliation by Moody Air Force Base or the U.S. Air Force.)

While focusing on making sure enlisted members' voices are heard, Moody's Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA) chapter devotes countless hours to community outreach and has grown from 300 to more than 1,000 members in the process.

AFSA Chapter 460 supplied Valdosta and surrounding areas with 6,000 volunteer hours in 2013. In the past two years, the chapter has raised over $10,000 for Wounded Warrior Project, Ronald McDonald House and the Air Force Enlisted Village.

"As we were getting people out in the community during these efforts, we would in turn use that time to talk to them about the organization as they gave back to the community through volunteering," said Master Sgt. Steven Haro, AFSA Chapter 460 President.  "Not only were we getting the Moody Airmen out in masses to volunteer, we were providing people an opportunity to lead efforts and foster growth." 

The chapter's long hours and hard work did not go unnoticed. The chapter competed against 32 other chapters in the region, and won five awards at this year's AFSA Division 2 Competition.

For Tech. Sgt. Phillip Mackey, AFSA Chapter 460 programs trustee, it is getting Airmen involved that makes being a part of AFSA worthwhile.

"It's about my NCOs and Airmen - getting them involved," said Mackey. "I like it when Airmen volunteer to be a POC for an event and may be nervous, but excited. We show them that they can coordinate a volunteer event and they gain a lot of confidence."

One event the chapter coordinates each year is the Annual Remembrance Poker Run to benefit a wounded warrior. This year's poker run held in September was a partnership with Nine Line Foundation to provide assistance to Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Holbert, a Green Beret and double amputee. The event raised $8,024 toward a home equipped with assistive technology that for Holbert and his family.

"Thanks to having the right people who were passionate about seeing the chapter reach new heights, and an extremely motivated general membership, we were able to not only raise membership ... but we got people involved with our efforts and events that we hosted," said Haro.

Inviting members of the base to volunteer for these service opportunities is one way the chapter has encouraged more Airmen to join the organization.

At only 300 active members in 2012 the chapter was nearly shut down. It was challenging for the chapter to represent all service members, families, retirees, Air National Guard and Reservists who benefit from AFSA with few members.

The chapter made a comeback over the past two years, and membership peaked to more than 1,000 members in September 2014.

AFSA ensures lawmakers understand the needs of enlisted personnel, and shapes policy decisions that directly affect the enlisted corps. The organization also provides numerous professional development and mentorship opportunities for chapter members.

"I really enjoy talking to the Airmen because politics and military benefits can be sometimes confusing and AFSA is a good outlet to answer questions," said Tech. Sgt. Bradford Doyon who has been a member of AFSA for three years.

Although 2014 has been a very successful year for the chapter, Haro said there is still room for growth.

"AFSA is a strength-in-numbers organization, with higher membership we tend to have a more active say on bills that are affecting military benefits. In my opinion, we still have a ways to go as an organization on the membership side ... Everybody listed has a part in the fight to retain the benefits that we serve for."