Supporting military service member quality of life, mental health, and wellness
The Inland Northwest has a long and rich history of supporting our military service members, both at home and abroad. A dedicated group of local leaders, recognizing an opportunity to further welcome active duty military and their families into our community, founded the Favored Few Support Crew Fund at Innovia Foundation.
That Support Crew group, consisting of Honorary Commanders and civic leaders, seeks to strengthen the overall quality of life of military personnel and families at Fairchild Air Force Base. Funds raised will be used to provide grants for large and small projects and initiatives that provide mental health, wellness and/or quality of life support for military personnel and their families stationed at Fairchild.
Founding Support Crew member and Fairchild Honorary Commander Charlie Duranona (U.S. Navy; 2002-07) was initially inspired when he was on the tarmac as the 384th Air Refueling Squadron returned from deployment to be greeted by excited family members brandishing “welcome back” signs.
“I had been on the other side of that interaction before, but to see the emotion from the family side hit a little different,” Duranona said. “I wanted to do something with my Honorary Commander title that would help families and provide a boost.”
Duranona, an appropriately titled “professional friend maker,” spoke with active duty military members as well as other Honorary Commanders, learning about how similar funds exist at many other bases across the country, supporting likeminded efforts for our Airmen. He originally sought to start a nonprofit for the cause, reaching out to fellow Honorary Commander and Executive Director of the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Program, Annie Murphey.
“After speaking through it (plans to create a nonprofit), we realized it would be more advantageous for us to work with Innovia and create a fund, utilizing everyone’s time and skill in a more effective way,” noted Murphey. “This allows us to use the money to support our active duty military most efficiently.”
Duranona says the Crew are honored to bring this fund to Fairchild and are excited for the positive impact it will make in the lives of our Airmen and their families.
Retired U.S. Army Sergeant Kitara Johnson, the Fund Founder as the first to contribute to the fund, is hopeful that the community will help bridge the gap to meet the needs of our military members.
“These are the people leaving to protect us,” Johnson said. “As a community and as a country, we have an obligation to support them.
“I saw the challenges, both as active duty and as a spouse at home, doing the best you can. There are resources the bases have, but there are also gaps in how that money has to be spent,” she added. “These men and women get up every day, trying to accomplish the mission of keeping us safe. This fund will help provide a place to recover mentally and physically.”
Examples of programming that may be funded through grants from the Favored Few Fund include purchasing school supplies for junior enlisted, filling and maintaining the on-base food pantry, deployed family picnics and events, as well as educational and support programs.
“Spokane is such a supportive military town. When groups want to put on a mental health supporting event, take families to a ball game, do a picnic or something, it usually falls outside of ‘big Air Force’ funding, so they have to go out and ask for donations,” Duranona added.
“People here are always willing to chip in, so this fund creates a supply for those type of quality of life, morale-boosting events.”
Checks can be mailed to: Innovia Foundation 421 W. Riverside Ave, Suite 606 Spokane, WA 99201. Please indicate Favored Few Support Crew Fund in the memo line.
Innovia can also help with gifts of stock or retirement funds.
Questions? Call the Gift Planning Team at 509-624-2606.
Header photo credit: Senior Airman Kiaundra Miller