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Newcomers invited to learn about base, surrounding area

Posted 8/10/2011   Updated 8/10/2011 Email story   Print story


by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

8/10/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Newcomers to the base who would like to learn about the Hanscom area will have several opportunities to do so in the coming weeks. The Airman and Family Readiness Center (A&FRC) will host three classes for new arrivals.

The Installation Commander's Welcome and Information Fair takes place Aug. 22 from 8 to 11:30 a.m. For family members not able to attend the commander's welcome, a Family Welcome is available on Aug. 23 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. A Newcomers Public Transportation and City Orientation outing happens on Aug. 24 beginning at 9 a.m.

"The summer months are typically a time of high turnover in the military," said Terri O'Keefe, community readiness consultant at the A&FRC. "Many families are moving due to new assignments. By August, a large number of them are getting settled, so the classes for newcomers are a great way to learn about and get acclimated to the area. Another benefit is the opportunity to meet people and make new friends who may be here throughout the assignment."

The Installation Commander's Welcome is mandatory for newly arrived Air Force military and DoD civilian personnel, however, spouses and personnel from other military branches working or living on Hanscom may also attend. The welcome features base and community information, mandatory safety and security briefings, refreshments and an information fair.

During the information fair, attendees can speak with representatives from many organizations such as the Hanscom Spouses Club, Hanscom commuter program, the education center and Military OneSource. In addition, attendees can receive tips on living and working in New England. The commander's welcome takes place in the Conference Center, Building 1106.

"It's also important to remember that spouses, as well as any Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard members and their families may attend Hanscom's new arrival classes," said Ms. O'Keefe. "Many opportunities and services are available to them and we want to make sure they are aware and informed."

For military spouses with small children who are not able to attend the Installation Commander's Welcome, the Family Welcome is another option. The Family Welcome takes place in an informal setting at the Airman and Family Readiness Center, Building 1218, and provides base and community information in a fun and family-friendly way.

Attendees will receive money-saving tips and shopping information while learning about local events and attractions, safety, security, volunteering, employment and more. Registration is required for the welcome and those interested may call 781-377-4222 or e-mail 66.fss.fsfr.cmb@hanscom.af.mil to sign up.

Another unique opportunity for newcomers is the Public Transportation and City Orientation, or Ride the T. The orientation helps those new to the New England area learn how to navigate the Boston public transportation system and receive tips on history, events, attractions and discounts.

"I really enjoyed the day," said Melissa Stiefel, a military wife who went on last month's Ride the T with her two sons. "I think it's a great idea for all newcomers to go on this trip."

Mrs. Stiefel was familiar public transportation, but wanted to get acclimated to Boston's system. She also met a lot of people during the ride who were not as comfortable with mass transit.

"The Airman and Family Readiness Center provided transportation to the train station and once we arrived, the tour guide led us to the machines and showed us what to," she said.

Mrs. Stiefel also pointed out the information she received during the day-long adventure was much more than she could get from a tour book.

"The knowledge of the tour guide was priceless," she said. "He pointed out some key historical places, but also told us stories about buildings that weren't really buildings or other things that you wouldn't normally ever find out."

Military members are not required to take leave to attend the outing. The cost is $4 for subway fares in addition to the cost of lunch downtown. To register, call 781-377-4222 or e-mail 66.fss.fsfr.cmb@hanscom.af.mil.

"Public transportation may be unfamiliar to many newcomers and learning to navigate it can be daunting for some," Ms. O'Keefe said. "By offering this option, we hope that people will take advantage of the many cultural, historical and recreational opportunities that exist in the greater Boston area, as well as take home some money and time saving tips, as well as possibly make new friends."

The Airman and Family Readiness Center offers many seminars, sessions and services for military and DoD civilian families at Hanscom. To learn more about these opportunities, visit www.hanscom.af.mil/units/afrc.asp or call 781-377-4222.

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