ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --
Squadron members across the 36th Wing, with contributions from fellow service members, civilians, and dependents at Andersen Air Force Base, garnered 3,000 pounds of essential goods to donate to the Alee Shelter on Guam, March 31, 2021.
The Alee Shelter is a local nonprofit organization and safe house for women and children affected by domestic violence and sexual abuse. Currently, the team serving in this emergency protective shelter caters to four women and 26 children between two undisclosed locations. These women and children rely on the shelter and the donations received to help fulfill their basic life needs, a cause the Andersen AFB community was more than willing to support.
“We chose the Alee Shelter because we wanted to help women empower other women,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Trisha Cruz, deputy airfield manager assigned to the 36th Operations Support Squadron and one of the lead coordinators for the donation drive.
The drive was held during the entire month of March in honor of Women’s History Month, and was announced across the 36th Wing to achieve maximum participation. As a team, the members and visitors of Andersen AFB were able to collect various items, such as face masks, bottled water, toilet tissue, diapers, sanitary napkins, laundry soap, dish soap, pillows, bedding, towels, and clothing.
“Everything we received in this donation is essential toward the day-to-day operations of our shelter,” said Leinani Naholowa’a, Alee Shelter program manager. “We have individuals, who are coming right out of the street, or being removed from their environment and away from their abusers, and they come with nothing but the clothes on their back, so we are very fortunate that we received this donation from Andersen Air Force Base.”
According to Naholowa’a, Guam has the second highest rate of criminal sexual conduct per capita in the United States and its territories. As an emergency protective location, the Alee Shelter’s mission is to serve the individuals in need of such services, as well as to educate and increase awareness of domestic violence in the island’s community.
All the squadron members who assisted in the donation drive had a different reason for volunteering and donating. U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Travis Meyer, superintendent of radar, airfield, and weather systems assigned to 36th OSS, heard the call to assist in this particular drive, as he was a victim of domestic abuse growing up.
“Organizations, like the Alee Shelter, were there for us when we needed help, so it’s my way of looking back at it and paying back those who paid it forward to me,” said Meyer.
The donations provided by the Andersen AFB community replenished many of the essential items the Alee Shelter supplies to the women and children within it. It is through the help of the base and local community that the Alee Shelter is able to operate and help the women and children in their facility recover, then go out and thrive.
“The partnership with the base and shelters, such as the Alee Shelter, is an ongoing effort,” said Cruz. “I grew up on Guam, and I didn’t know about the Alee Shelter until I was a military member, but, now that I am back here serving with Team Andersen, it feels really good to give back to the local community.”