Volunteer spirit helps Airman's Attic one mouse click at a time

  • Published
  • By Katherine C. Gandara
  • Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Chief of Public Affairs
Those who can, do and those who can do more, volunteer. That is exactly what Staff Sgt. Nathan Peterson, a systems administrator with the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, is doing. Sergeant Peterson volunteered his time and expertise to create the Airman's Attic Directory at www.airmansattic.net. The website is designed to be a one stop shop for information about Airman's Attics.

"I decided to help when I discovered there wasn't an online presence," said Sergeant Peterson. Airman's Attic provides a valuable service to our military members and their families. I have been the recipient of these benefits and wanted to reach out and return the service."

Airman's Attic is a volunteer-run base organization that lends a helping hand to all Airmen in need. It works like a commercial donation organization; however, there is no charge to customers.

"I noticed that every Airman's Attic I've used needed a source to post information for members using its services," said Sergeant Peterson. "The information is available but it isn't consolidated to one location so that's where the idea for the Airman's Attic Directory came from. The website is designed to be a centralized location for information about Airman's Attics across the Air Force."

"I built the Airman's Attic Directory at the beginning of 2011 and wanted to start with Kirtland's Airman's Attic. I presented the idea to Kirtland's Airman's Attic director Misty Hauge and along with the base's First Sergeants' Council they decided to give it a try," said the sergeant. "The Kirtland Airman's Attic webpage is receiving excellent feedback and base members are already using the classifieds feature on the site."

"I believe this website is crucial to our organization because it provides important information to our customers," said Mrs. Hauge. "Sergeant Peterson even volunteered to create software that allows us to check people out electronically and saves all the data in the computer immediately. Not only does it make the check out process easier and more precise, but it allows us to identify abuse of the service faster. He generously gave his time and talent to build this website and we are very thankful for his efforts."

In addition to Kirtland, Minot AFB, N.D., is also participating in the Airman's Attic Directory website. "I found out about the website through one of my patrons," said Jennifer Garcia, Minot's Airman's Attic director. "I looked into it and thought it would be a great way to help our Attic. I'm glad Sergeant Peterson stepped up to do this. It will be a great asset to any base that uses it."

"There are a number of other bases setting up a page for their Airman's Attic on the website," said Sergeant Peterson. "The Airman's Attic Directory doesn't cost an organization any money to use. All it takes is for the interested base to contact me and I will help them set up their individual page. I'm already working with Vandenberg AFB, Calif., Dover AFB, Del., Keesler AFB, Miss., Hill AFB, Utah, and Andersen AFB, Guam to set up pages on the Airman's Attic Directory.

"The Airman's Attic Directory is meant to be a focal point for information about a host base's Airman's Attic," explained the sergeant. "The site is user friendly, safe and secure and only key personnel have access to the site. Each base can be as active with their page as they want and they have full control of posting announcements, updates, news, and even a classified section. Other features include Facebook integration, photo and video galleries, map features, contact forms, as well as unlimited web space and bandwidth."

Sergeant Peterson also explained that the website is designed on a content management platform with built in security features. "It is important for participating Airman's Attics to practice operations security when posting information," he said. "The domain is owned and staffed by Air Force active-duty members and volunteer webmasters. The service is dedicated to being a secure and safe alternative for participating bases to maximize their Airman's Attic services. Spam is blocked and the pages are designed to protect valuable information within the Airman's Attic Directory framework.

"My goal is for the Airman's Attic Directory to become self-sustaining," said Sergeant Peterson. "Each host base will have the resources, tools, and education to continue to use the service. After a base signs up and launches their page, the directors and volunteers are educated on how they can have full control of the asset. The Airman's Attic Directory website is a springboard for information combined with technology to help each base Airman's Attic toward increasing participation, volunteer activity, donations and services."

"Airman's Attic is a successful program because of community involvement from people like Sergeant Peterson," said Mrs. Hauge. "He went above and beyond and created a service that brought us into the 21st century and made our Attic a much better place for our customers who benefit the most."

Volunteering has been likened as the ultimate exercise in democracy. While citizens vote in elections once a year, when they volunteer they vote every day about the kind of community they want to live in. Sergeant Peterson's volunteer spirit lead him to see a need and to fill it. His efforts are most certainly making a difference one mouse click at a time.

For more information about the Airman's Attic Directory, go to: http://airmansattic.net/contact-us/ and fill out the "Contact Us" form.