Are you looking for a way to serve your community in a positive way? The Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed group may be the thing for you.
The organization derives its name from the Bible verse 2 Timothy 2:15, and is a faith-based initiative to give children and youths a place to have fun while learning about the Bible.
Awana is a national program with more than 11,500 participating U.S. churches. The Air Force has several Awana programs, and D-M has the second largest behind Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam, Hawaii.
“Last year, we had 160 kids and 50 volunteers,” said Capt. (Chaplain) John Boyer, 355th Fighter Wing. “This year we have already registered 100 plus kids. Both chapels here are packed, and every single space is utilized.”
Chaplain Boyer and Capt. (Chaplain) Phillip Hollstein, 355th FW, are both involved in Awana. However, they do not take credit for making it function.
“The chaplains are a part of it, but really our volunteers on base are the ones that make the program work,” Chaplain Boyer said. “Every week, we have people who are active-duty and spouses involved in it.”
One spouse, Jessica Kapes, is actually the volunteer coordinator, and is given much credit for keeping D-M’s Awana program running smoothly.
“I’m the sponsoring chaplain for Awana since it is a chapel program, but she is really the main lead as far as planning and generating volunteers,” Chaplain Hollstein said. “She really does the legwork that makes the program happen.”
Kapes is responsible for organizing the volunteers and training them on how to work with the different age groups.
“We normally do a one to two-hour overview,” Kapes said. “If you’re working with younger kids, there’s not as much training. With our older kids, we like to go over more of the basics of the program.”
One of the primary functions of volunteers is to help kids learn Bible verses, one of the staples Awana is built around.
“When the kids say the verse, the volunteers have it right in front of them,” Kapes said. “We don’t expect our volunteers to memorize everything, but they need to know that the kids only get two assists among other things.”
D-M’s Awana program hosts children ranging from preschool to high school. Last year, the participants memorized approximately 3,500 Bible verses.
“The cool thing about Awana is they are learning the Bible and storing it in their hearts,” Chaplain Boyer said. “Later on as they grow older they will remember back to that time.”
Some of the adult leaders that help with the Awana organization went through the program themselves.
However, Chaplain Boyer would like the Desert Lightning Team to understand that it is not a requirement.
“I think there is a great untapped potential here in the dorms,” Chaplain Boyer said. “We have a lot of young Airmen, who may miss home and their siblings. They have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in kids’ lives through this program.”
Boyer also believes the volunteers benefit from the program as well. Besides making an impact on the community, volunteers also socialize with the children and learn about them and what they are going through.
“They have a great time playing games,” Chaplain Boyer said. “It really is a great community effort.”
D-M’s Awana program meets every Wednesday between September and May, with the exceptions of holidays.
For more information or to volunteer for the D-M Awana program, contact the chapel at 228-5411.