Airmen and others at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base who are single parents are finding strength through support of a new program taking place the fourth Thursday of each month.
The “Single Parenting Network,” sponsored by the Wright-Patterson AFB Protestant and Catholic faith communities, met for the first time for lunch May 25 in the Kittyhawk Chapel, behind the Bowling Center, Kittyhawk Center, Area A.
“The biggest component of the Single Parenting Network is you communicating with one another,” said Chaplain (Capt.) R. Brenner Campbell, “and getting to know who else is in the same shoes. Who are the people around us willing to love on us and support us?”
The chaplain said he developed the idea for the SPN because of a young Airman at Beale AFB, California, who was married and the mother of an infant son when her husband decided he no longer wanted to be married and left. Twenty months later, she received short-notice orders she was to deploy to Africa. She drove 1,800 miles to take her son to her mother, who had agreed to take him in.
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Eight months later, the Airman and her son were reunited.
“That type of thing only happens in a military family, in a military setting,” Campbell said. “She would have collapsed if she didn’t have people around her who knew what she was going through because they had been there and done that as single parents.”
Campbell said he knows such stories are repeated throughout the military, and they affect active-duty members, civilians, contractors and those thinking about joining the military. That is why founding the group, although he has been stationed here for just a few months, makes sense to him.
Loving and providing for each other, where they are, is the mission of the chaplain corps, he said. Chapel volunteers and members of the chaplain corps will be on hand to assist with the SPN.
“We greatly appreciate the sacrifices you are making for our nation and our Air Force,” Campbell said to the participants.
He shared his hope that the participants will form significant relationships and share parenting tips and tricks with one another.
“Only single parents know what it’s like to be single parents,” he said, “and when you’re in that boat, it sure is nice to know that other travelers are in that boat with you. There is much to glean from others who have gone down that road.”
Lunch is provided, and every session will include encouragement from experienced single parents. In addition, the chapel will host several annual activities, like camping or fishing, with parents and children so they can be involved, too.
“It’s great to create a community and opportunities for the children as well,” Campbell said. “We want you to have life more abundantly.”
One parent participant who had a difficult divorce and is always with her three adult and teenage children said she is hoping she’ll find someone through the SPN who is in a similar situation so they can share ideas.
Debbie Rutherford, a financial analyst with the Aerospace Systems Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, said she is excited about the SPN and how it will benefit herself and her kids.
“I was nervous coming, but I’m glad I did so,” she said. “If I interact with other people who are single parents, I’ll definitely spread the word.”
As the mother of an 8-month-old daughter and a 5-year-old son, Staff Sgt. Anastasia Atterberry, a contracting specialist with Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Operational Contracting, said she hopes the SPN helps her learn how to juggle even better.
“I think I do pretty well, but it’s always nice to hear how other people do things,” she said. “People say I don’t ask for enough help. That’s part of why I’m going. I’d like to have other people — other adults — to talk to.
“It’s a tough job,” Atterberry said.
To attend or volunteer email Campbell at richard.. A monthly email will be sent to remind participants of the lunch.