HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Holloman key spouses paint the “Holloman rock,” approximately every two weeks to highlight fun events, holidays, and general base awareness activities in order to promote community, cohesion and aid in putting a smile on Team Holloman member’s faces.
The rock adorned with painted designs is displayed at a base housing development, giving passersby an opportunity observe the rock and even snap some photos providing a Holloman specific keep-sake memory.
Several years ago squadrons conducted “spirit missions” to spark fun and camaraderie within base organizations. Unfortunately, after a series of unprofessional paintings, senior leadership decided it was time for a “rock manager.”
“There has been a single point of contact for the rock ever since to ensure professionalism and fun is shared by everyone,” said Maj. Naomi Donovan, 924th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander.
Donovan, who is also the 2018 49th Mission Support Group key spouse, has been in charge of updating the rock since the spring of 2019.
“It’s been a blessing and an honor to manage the rock for the past years,” said Donovan. “I love all of the positive community morale the rock brings.”
Donovan shares this playful painting project with her close friends, Kim Furry, the 49th Force Support Squadron community activity center manager, and Jackie Ottesen, a 6th Attack Squadron key spouse.
“We have taken on painting the rock as our service project for the base,” said Donovan. “We have funded the paint and supplies ourselves, spending hours painting in the heat, rain and dark of night to ensure there’s always something new and exciting for the base community members to see.”
Whether it is rain and shine or sleet and snow, Donovan and her counterparts use their personal time, resources and patience to complete this task in honor of Team Holloman members.
“Typically, we spray paint the background of the rock 12-24 hours prior to painting the design,” she said. “The next day we paint a design onto the rock which can take anywhere from two to eight hours. The cost is about $7 to $25 per rock.”
With their portable paint wagon full of spray and acrylic paints, Donovan and her team head out to update the rock approximately every two weeks.
“We paint the rock for major holidays, significant base events, 49th Force Support Squadron events and general base awareness activities,” said Donovan. “Examples are the 4th of July, Memorial Day, Shark Week, 49th FSS 5K series, Mother’s Day, back-to-school and our most famous rock design, Baby Yoda.”
With several events taking place to prompt a fresh look for the rock, Donovan explained what her favorite aspect of painting the rock was.
“We love seeing how children react to the rock when they notice it has changed,” said Donovan. “There have been lines of families waiting to take pictures with the back-to-school rock and Mother’s Day rock.”
When Donovan and her team see photos of the rock shared on social media, not only does that provoke a great sense pride for them, but it also assures the painting team that their goal of creating a unified community here at Holloman, has been met.
“Seeing the designs we came up with come alive on the rock is so fun,” said Ottesen. “I love seeing people take pictures with the rock; it makes the time and effort we put into painting the rock completely worth it. We try to come up with designs that will brighten people’s day and reflect positivity.”
Due to a permanent change of station, Donovan will figuratively and literally speaking, pass off the paint brush to Ottesen as the new “rock manager,” for the year 2020-2021.
“As I take leadership of the rock this year, I am looking forward to coming up with more designs that people will love,” said Ottesen. “I’m excited to meet new people and coordinate with the squadrons across base to promote their events.”