The 118th Wing, ISR Group, 236 Intelligence Squadron, C-Flight of the Tennessee Air National Guard wanted to give back to the community where they live and work and chose Nashville Rescue Mission as the place to do it.
“We each call Middle Tennessee our home,” shared Ricky “Echo” Wooten. “Our families live and work here. As such, we feel it’s important to give back to our community outside of what we are instructed to do.”
“We live blessed lives. I believe there is true happiness when you work through gratitude,” shared Ricky. “It’s what gives us positivity and optimism. And one of the ways that happens is when you serve the needs of others.”
“I believe there is true happiness when you work through gratitude”
-TSgt Ricky “Echo” Wooten
According to Ricky, many times people only see military members serving in uniform during a time of crisis or catastrophe. But serving at a place like the Mission gives them a chance to create a more positive reflection on what military members can do when connected to and serving in their community.
During their time of serving, the squadron peeled potatoes, prepared fruit, and served lunch to hungry men who were taking shelter at the Mission. “It was really fun to be part of this,” recalled Ricky. “The incredible attitude of all the volunteers … the thankfulness of the men we served as they came through the line … it was really inspiring for us.”
“I have an extended family member who in their mid-40s had a mental breakdown,” shared Ricky. “No one could locate him, and we eventually learned he had become homeless. A program like the Mission s got him the help he needed, and he was reconnected with our family. Three years later, and he’s still doing well. He’s getting the mental health treatment he needs and is gainfully employed. So, for me, this was somewhat of a personal experience.”
And for the rest of the squadron, they all loved it and went home saying how much they wanted to serve again. “We left that day with a new sense of camaraderie we’d not had before,” shared Ricky. “It changed our hearts and added to our gratitude.”