Family members serve Team Offutt, community

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. James M. Hodgman
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
Military family members sacrifice much. Their spouses, mothers and fathers leave to fight wars while they take care of the home and the children. Despite this, many still find time to serve their local community.

In 2009, Offutt's Red Cross volunteers, many of them military family members, contributed 3,641 hours serving Team Offutt and the local community. One of these volunteers is Stacie Knight, the wife of retired Lt. Col. Douglas Knight and a mother of two.

Every Thursday, Mrs. Knight can be found in the Red Cross office here answering phones, assisting customers and helping in any way she can. For her, helping the military community is somewhat of a mission.

"I wanted to do something for the community, military and those in need," Mrs. Knight said.

By volunteering with the Red Cross, she said, she feels that she makes a difference every day.

Mrs. Knight started volunteering for the Offutt Red Cross office in October 2009. Ever since, she's assisted numerous customers, helped put on the Red Cross Open House event at the Ehrling Bergquist Clinic March 10, and attended a two-day workshop to become a Red Cross service to armed forces caseworker.

She also volunteers in the library of the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, where she helps patrons find and check out items.

"I'm thrilled when I have helped someone," Mrs. Knight said. "Just knowing I've helped is all the appreciation I (need.)"

Another member of Team Offutt, who volunteers on a regular basis in the physical therapy clinic of the EBC, is Nicholas Kinkead, the son of Army Lt. Col. Nicholas Kinkead, a strategic planner of the plans and policy directorate office for U.S. Strategic Command.

Mr. Kinkead helps the clinic's physical therapy technicians in any way he can.

"What I basically do is shadow the technicians and do anything from sanitize beds, change sheets and pillow cases, prepare hot and cold packs, escort Personal Reliability Program personnel to the PRP office or make coffee," he said.

Mr. Kinkead has been helping others since the summer of 2007. Then, at the age of 16, while his father was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., he volunteered weekly in the Womack Army Medical Center.

"I was placed in the orthopedic department where I shadowed a physician's assistant and helped him with his day-to-day work," he said. "I ran papers, got contact information from patients, helped with casting and (ensured) supplies (were) ready."

That summer had a significant impact on him, he said.

"When I was in the orthopedic department (the physician's assistant) explained to me what he does on a normal basis. (Learning that) and seeing how the hospital works for a whole summer, I thought from that moment on, working in a hospital would be best for me. That was where I needed to be," he said.

Being a part of the difference that physicians and their assistants make in servicemembers lives was amazing, Mr. Kinkead said. Seeing Soldiers, who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, go from not being able to use their hands to using their hands was a great thing, he said.

"After seeing that I knew that work was the kind of work I would love most," he added.

Today, Mr. Kinkead is a full-time student at Metropolitan Community College where he's pursuing a degree in biology and hopes to have a career in medicine. Every Friday, his lone day off from school, he contributes four hours assisting Offutt's physical therapy technicians.

"I just really enjoy helping people," he said.

Judy Reabe, service to armed forces and military families associate for Offutt's Red Cross office, said Mrs. Knight and Mr. Kinkead have performed well and she's thankful for their support.

"Thanks to volunteers like Stacie our office has been able to expand our hours," Ms. Reabe said.

Having her there to answer the phone, help servicemembers or whoever walks in is very important, she added.

Mr. Kinkead, who volunteers through the Red Cross, she said, has had quite an impact at the EBC.

"At our open house we received such high remarks about how well he's doing and how thrilled the hospital staff was about having someone volunteer with a passion for the medical field," Ms. Reabe said.

Volunteers like Mrs. Knight and Mr. Kinkead are what make the Red Cross work, she added.

"We need our volunteers, without volunteers the Red Cross mission isn't possible," she said.

For more information about the Red Cross or to volunteer, call 294-5032 or visit www.redcrossomaha.org.

(Editor's Note: This is the second story in a three part series on volunteering.)