Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations
By Master Sgt. Veronica A. Aceveda
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Children who stay at the Fisher House on Dover Air Force Base, Del., will soon have their own area where they can both play and reflect on the loss of a loved one.
Plans are in the final stages for the installation of a new playground to be built on the Campus for the Families of the Fallen.
"Currently, children can watch movies or play with a limited supply of toys in the family room," said Kim Landis, Friends of the Fallen president. "The need to have a play area was recognized early on, so we're excited to finally get the ball rolling."
About 10 people gathered March 13, 2012, outside the Fisher House to coordinate and discuss the specifics of the project. Attendees included representatives from the FOF, the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, civil engineers and contractors.
As a nonprofit organization, she said the FOF was willing to raise funds to ensure the children who had to come here could play on top of the line equipment but became intimidated when an original vendor price came in at $44,000.
Landis said the project would not have been possible without the help of Charlie Walker, an equipment manufacturer representative, who previously worked on Dover AFB Youth Center's playground.
She said, he's the one who offered to negotiate with contractors and businessmen for discounted services and materials.
"How can you not want to utilize the gifts, resources and abilities you've been given for such a purpose like this," said Walker, who managed to get the majority of the project funded through about $30,000 of donated equipment and services.
"Everyone wanted to be a part of it, especially because of who it was for and how it could possibly comfort the families during such a difficult time," he added.
"I would imagine it could be helpful to some of the parents and grandparents to be able to see the children play," said Landis. "You have to consider how many of these kids travel by plane combined with a two-hour car ride from the airport. I'm sure they will appreciate the outdoor space to run and play."
The playground is scheduled to be completed by summer. The private playground, for ages 2 to 12, will be located on the northwest side of the Fisher House.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski