Civ-Mil and businesses from around the Antelope Valley welcomed European families stationed at Edwards Air Force Base that are assigned to the F-35 Joint Operational Test and Evaluation program during a ‘meet and greet’ mixer the Larry Chibole Cultural Center in Palmdale, Calif.
Upon entering the event, ladies were given a red rose compliments of Larry Chimbole and Chris Spicher of AV Florist.
Community leaders, business and education advisers were on hand to inform guests of services offered while living in the Antelope Valley. With about 150 families scheduled to move into the are this summer – 75 from the United Kingdom – Civ-Mil is leading the way to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
“We are not in the middle of nowhere, we are in the middle of everywhere,” Civ-Mil President Danny Bazzell told guests. “And we are here to help you in any way we can.”
Guests helped themselves to a fajita/nacho-bar sponsored by Schooners and were given a demonstration of Eniac, a frisbee tossing robot by the Lancaster High Eagles robotic team. “We are happy to be here and share Eniac with these kid because Edwards has always been there for us,” said Eagles co-manager Natalie Wenzell.
“In Europe we have free health care and very little paper work. Here in America, you have a different system and a lot of paper work,” joked Wing Cmdr. Glenn Littlejohns, the United Kingdom F-35 commander. “I’m not sure what it is, but everyone who is coming over seems to be having babies.” He was thankful for the services provided by local medical centers and hospitals.
Yvette Emard, founder of Kids Charities of the AV, encouraged guests to enjoy many family orientated events throughout the year including: Concerts at Marie Kerr Park in Palmdale; ‘Thunder on the Lot’ a premier classic car and motorcycle event, ‘GraceFest AV’ a Christian concert that features national and local artists; and W.O.W., a women’s faith based conference that takes place at the Painted Turtle Camp. “There is plenty to do right here in the AV,” said Emard. The Kids Charities has been operating since 2000 and has raised and dispersed over $4 million to more than 30 local children’s charitable organizations.
Many had questions about driving privileges, schools, housing and entertainment but left feeling better about being a long way from home.
“Thank you for making us feel so welcomed,” Hayley Littlejohns told Barbara Childs and other community members. “We appreciate you paying attention to our particular needs and I’m confident that future British families will be well looked after by the community.”
Civ-Mil is an organization established 25 years ago by founder Aida O’Connor to establish a friendly benevolent association of civic leaders and military personal, to act as a host group whenever needed and to consider an annual service project to benefit all working at Edwards. www.eafbcivmil.org www.kids-charities.org