Chapel program offers free dinner, sewing

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Airmen ventured into the security forces dorm day room with uniforms in hand and empty stomachs Oct. 19. The chapel presented "Supper and Stripes," a new program that provides Airmen with a home-cooked meal while volunteers sew patches or stripes on uniforms.

Supper and Stripes is held the third Thursday of the month in the security forces dorm day room. Airmen, E-4 and below, can come to get patches, name tapes and stripes sewn on while getting a home-cooked meal.

Chaplain (Capt.) David Daus said, "Our goal is to establish a connection with the Airmen in a nonthreatening environment -- for them to interface with a group of people that are willing to be a warm, caring 'family' away from home."

Kay Besecker, chairperson of the program, said, "I like working with the kids. At Ellsworth Air Force Base, (S.D.), we had all the kids over for Christmas and Thanksgiving and we just loved it." Ms. Besecker said she was excited about the program and she joked that she had never sewn patches on her husband's uniform while he was active duty.

"I wish we'd had this when I was in. We did our own stripes; we'd sew around the stripes with shaky stitches," Bill Besecker said. Mr. Besecker volunteered his time to help sort through donated stripes, removing the old stitches and preparing them to be sewn on.

"I came out because it seemed like a good group and I wanted to see what the atmosphere was like. It's a really nice thing they're doing," Airman 1st Class Aaron Ransom of security forces said. Airman Ransom said he would normally take his uniforms to the alterations shop, but that this was a nice alternative with good homemade meals.

The idea for the program was well-received and there were plenty of volunteers ready to help out; the Alterations Shop even donated "recycled" stripes. Four women brought their sewing machines into the day room to sew the uniforms. Many of the volunteers were active-duty spouses and retired Airmen and their spouses. There was no shortage of food, with dishes ranging from hot wings to cheesy lasagna to fresh desserts. Volunteers to sew or cook are always welcome.

Airman 1st Class Mark Post, also of security forces, didn't bring a uniform but plans to at upcoming Supper and Stripes nights. "Somebody told me about this and I came for the food -- it's been a long time since I've had a good home-cooked meal," Airman Post said.

Chaplain Daus said that although the event is held in the security forces dorm day room, Supper and Stripes is open to all Airmen E-4 and below, not just security forces personnel.

The event is presented by the chapel, but the goal of Supper and Stripes is to reach out to Kirtland's youngest Airmen. Chaplain Daus said: "I think there may be a perception that since it is a chapel-related program, that it will be overtly religious. This simply isn't the case -- we are trying to meet the needs of our Airmen. If, as a result, they feel comfortable assimilating into our chapel community, we would certainly be pleased with that."

The next Supper and Stripes events will be held Nov. 16 and due to the holiday season the December Supper and Stripes will be Dec. 7, from 6-8 p.m. in the security forces dorm day room. Questions about Supper and Stripes can be brought to Chaplain Daus at 505-846-5691.