For Airmen at Tinker Air Force Base looking for a new way to connect with each other, the new Hobby Hub group sponsored by Tinker’s Helping Agencies was launched earlier this month to help build that sense of community.
The group offers more than 20 distinct areas of interest that include cars, fishing, shooting, board games, running, cooking, snowboarding and skiing, woodworking, scrapbooking and photography. The group even offers communities to provide support for married couples, new parents, single parents and for spiritual needs.
“We came up with this idea as a way to help Airmen who might not feel like they’re part of a community or might be feeling lonely,” said Staff Sgt. Alan Nham, 72nd Medical Group, one of the group’s two co-chairs. “Whether they’re new to Tinker or just looking to connect with other Airmen, we’re hoping this group will help meet that need.”
The group hosted its kickoff event on Nov. 7 at Tinker’s Army and Air Force Exchange, where they provided Airmen with more details on how to join and what they could look forward to once they signed up. Nham said that the event went well and he is looking forward to a decent amount of participation based on those that stopped by.
The group has been in development for the last three months, with Nahm and Staff Sgt. Paris James, 72nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, leading the project’s development with the support of the Tinker Helping Agencies.
Nahm said that if Airmen couldn’t find a group they were interested in, they could reach out to the Hobby Hub and see about getting a new group started. The group primarily operates through a Facebook group, where members can stay in communication and coordinate events.
While the overall stated purpose of Hobby Hub is to increase connections for hobbies and interests throughout Tinker AFB by creating a one-stop shop for the Tinker AFB military community, Maj. Jovanna Gaines, director of Psychological Health, 72nd Medical Group, said that it was also created to help combat a growing sense of loneliness and isolation among Airmen.
“As we look at mental health issues such as depression and suicide, issues that bring them to Mental Health for treatment, we notice that there are people who are lonely,” Gaines said. “Whether they were in a large squadron or a small squadron, we keep finding this perception of loneliness and we wanted to find a way to help people connect with each other.”
Gaines, alongside Community Support Director Karen Blackwell, have been providing guidance to the Hobby Hub committee to help them develop the program in a way that will best support Airmen.
“Just sometimes getting folks connected with friends and support systems might prevent them from doing something to harm themselves or prevent them from feeling depressed, lonely and isolated,” Gaines said.
Hobby Hub is open to anyone affiliated with Tinker, whether they are Airmen, family members and dependents, civilians or contractors. To join, visit facebook.com/TinkerHobbyHub to answer a few questions and join the group. For more information or to suggest a new interest group, email 72ABW.CVB.TinkerHobbyHub@us.af.mil.