Holloman childcare providers receive award for support during pandemic

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Adrian Salazar
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

49th Force Support Squadron Child and Youth Program employees were surprised when they were called into work to receive the Exemplary Civilian Service award, recognizing their efforts during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“They told us we had to come in Saturday for a normal cleaning day,” said Jasmine Ethington, 49th FSS Child Development Center Preschool Program employee. “When I showed up they started handing out awards. I was honestly trying to hold back my tears because it felt good to be appreciated.”

In response to the pandemic, 49th Wing leadership maximized the use of telework schedules to keep members of Team Holloman safe. However, a select amount of essential missions required in-person work and that meant there was still a need for childcare.

“It was tough at the start because we needed to be there and stay positive to entertain [the children] despite what was happening,” said Rugeana Moreno, 49th FSS Youth Open Rec Center employee. “We wanted to make them feel like they were part of a special group because many of the kids needed to make new friends since their old ones were staying home.”

Staying positive was one aspect of working through the pandemic but other challenges were presented.

“Before when we taught emotions to the kids, we would make the face and then they’d mimic it, well now they can’t see our face because of the mask,” said Charessa Munson, 49th FSS CDC Toddler Age Program employee. “We’ve now come up with an activity to make emotions out of paper plates so that they still get that learning experience.”

By providing a place for the youth and children of Holloman to stay entertained and continue learning, childcare workers keep the 49th WG mission moving.

“It was great to be recognized, it made us feel like we were closer to the military and essential to the mission,” said Munson. “It was definitely a surprise but I’m happy we got some positive recognition for our work.”