Hats off to Mike Kloiber and his wife Pam, who organized the Home Away from Home for airmen at Tinker Air Force Base!
MWC eatery to raise funds for Tinker support program
Mike and Pam Kloiber, who are longtime local community leaders and TAFB supporters, have been instrumental in getting the Home Away From Home project going strong. Pam owns a small boutique in south Oklahoma City and is the military liaison for the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, while Mike is president and CEO of Tinker Federal Credit Union.
Pam Kloiber says Home Away From Home all started just over a year ago when she and her husband were attending a 552nd Air Control Wing awards banquet. Talk of sequestration and furloughs could be heard at the table, which included 552nd ACW commander Col. Greg Guillot.
The next thing she knew, Col. Guillot mentioned a program of sponsor families being matched up with a young cadet.
Kloiber told Col. Guillot, “Well, let’s do it.”
He replied, “Well it’s not that easy.”
She quipped back, “Yes it is. You take care of the military side and I’ll take care of the community side.”
Six months later, Lt. Col. Vernon Conaway, deputy commander for the 552nd Operations Group, was overseeing the program from the military side and its first participants with the help of the Kloibers and a host of other supporters.
Today, the program has some 44 Airmen and 29 host families. To qualify, the Airmen must have just completed basic training and on their first assignment, live in the dorms on base and be between age 18 and their early 20s, Kloiber said.
It has been adopted from other similar programs so no one had to “reinvent the wheel,” Kloiber said.
“People may wonder why it is so important to support our youngest Airmen,” Conaway said. “These are 18 to 25 years olds. They are not your typical young people; they have incredible responsibility. They live a very frugal life.”
For many the frugal life means no vehicle so leaving TAFB is challenging and that is where Home Away From Home steps in.
Kloiber said they’re one of their adopted Airmen attends church with them every Sunday while another attends local sporting events.
As for the Warfel family, they helped one of their Airmen when she totaled her car in an accident and needed a new one. “Her parents are across the country so I was happy to help her through that stressful situation.”
Home Away From Home has an application that Airmen must complete to participate. As for host families, for more information contact Colonel Conaway at 734-2944 or e-mail email@example.com; or Kloiber at 503-5041 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plans are in the works to expand the program to the Navy. Kloiber said there is an interest in local retired Seaman to adopt fellow Seaman so once that is in place, Home Away From Home will be able to say that they cover the entire base.
Read the 2013 article about the start of the program below.