Air Force Enlisted Village: A One of a Kind Community, a Kind and Caring Mission
For fifty years, the Air Force Enlisted Village’s nonprofit mission has been to provide a safe, secure home for surviving spouses of retired enlisted U.S. Air Force members who are over the age of 55. Housing is provided in Shalimar at Bob Hope Village, an independent living community, and at Hawthorn House, an assisted living and memory care residence on the Bob Hope Village campus.
Every resident has a deeply touching story, but *Theresa’s path to Bob Hope Village last winter is uniquely moving. She is why the Air Force Enlisted Village exists. Theresa shared her story in her own words:
After my husband retired from the Air Force, we became full-time RVers and had great plans to travel all over the U.S. When we reached Jacksonville, I started having some health issues. Then Bob got sick. The doctors said he had five more years, but he passed away 82 days later.
Everything was in Bob’s name because he didn’t want me to have to worry about anything. Without Bob, I couldn’t afford the motorhome and our car.
I like to take care of myself, and didn’t want to be a burden on others. I bought a cheap old SUV, and I downsized to the barest necessities to survive. The SUV had no heat, and I couldn’t afford to get the heater fixed. It was tough to stay warm. I would sleep in shopping center parking lots. I was scared.
My husband had told me that if anything happened to him, I should contact the Air Force and that’s how I found out about the Air Force Enlisted Village. I called, and I was told to come right away and there’d be an apartment waiting for me at Bob Hope Village.
If the Air Force Enlisted Village weren’t here to help me, I wouldn’t have survived winter in the SUV. Now I can close my eyes and go to sleep unafraid.
“We’re honored to help Theresa. At the Air Force Enlisted Village, we believe spouses serve our country alongside the active duty member and our residents have dedicated their lives to service and helping others,” Air Force Enlisted Village President and CEO Brooke McLean said. “We provide a small ‘thank you’ in recognition of their sacrifice.”
Theresa joins other military widows who enjoy the camaraderie and worry-free living at Bob Hope Village. It’s more than a safe, secure home for military widows. Bob Hope Village is a community where residents have access to scheduled bus transportation, prescription pick up service, activities, social events, on-site conveniences, and a variety of amenities to promote fitness, wellness and independence. A friend or neighbor is always nearby to share memories of military life.
The Air Force Enlisted Village has grown over its 50 years to meet the ongoing and everchanging needs of residents. In 2005, Hawthorn House opened to provide assisted living for residents who needed a higher level of care. Later, a memory support wing was added to for residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Originally built in the mid-1980s, Bob Hope Village expanded in 2015 from the original four villages to five with modern apartment amenities specifically designed for aging residents.
“We survey our residents every year to identify their needs and we do our best to provide them with quality housing and outstanding amenities,” McLean said. “Residents had been asking for more fitness and wellness activities so we’ve launched a wellness program for residents and later this summer we’ll be opening our new fitness wing at the Bob Hope Village community center where residents will have access to fitness classes and new work out equipment.”
Air Force Enlisted Village board members are currently planning the construction of an additional village at Bob Hope Village that will open in 2020 and meet the demands of a growing population of baby boomers.
“The demographics are clear. Our nation is changing with the aging of the baby boomers and we have some large challenges to address,” McLean explained. “We want to be part of the solution to care for more residents in new and innovative ways.”
As a private, nonprofit organization, the Air Force Enlisted Village has provided over the past five years an average of $897,000 per year for the direct support to the widows of retired enlisted Airmen who embody the core mission.
“We receive support from active duty Air Force members around the world, but we also rely on a robust level of support from our local donors,” McLean noted. “Every donation changes lives of people just like Theresa who from no fault of their own have found themselves living in less than desirable conditions.”
To make a donation to the Air Force Enlisted Village, please click HERE.
*Name changed to protect the privacy of the resident.