Base clubs collocate for better support, streamlined approach

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78 ABW/PA
Members of the Robins Enlisted and Officers' clubs have begun sharing a home.

Robins is combining resources to provide a better environment for its community by consolidating the enlisted and officers club programs into one club, open to all ranks and grades. The club must maintain separate enlisted and officer lounges, but food and entertainment programs are taking on a new look.

"The decision was made based on finances because combining into one club allowed the club to better support members with a more streamlined approach," said Linda Hinkle, marketing director for Services.

The financial transition began in January 2006 and several activities such as Casino Night have already merged.

Robins took a look at the club system and the only way it could survive and continue to provide a tradition of excellence was to consolidate programs. It is either consolidate or lose both, said Chief Master Sgt. Roy Lapioli, commandant for the Robins NCO Academy and enlisted chair of the club advisory council.

The transition has been a slow one. Members of the community didn't realize the club was merging programs and services, which left many unsure which events were open to who.

"We have had a bit of an identity problem as to what the club really is. We just need to get the word out, it is for all ranks and grades," Ms. Hinkle said.

Members of the club's staff are working to get the message out that club programs are open to all.

"We are doing a lot of research to make sure we are doing the right thing for our customers," Ms. Hinkle said.

As one of the first steps to helping both enlisted, officers, military retirees and civilians better understand the changes, Services is sponsoring a contest to help rename the club.

Members of the services staff are hoping to find a name that will appeal to all members and prospective members of the club whether they are active duty, a civilian or a retiree.

The "Name the Club" contest will begin today and continue through June 30. A new name is expected to be approved and announced in early July and the majority of the consolidation should take place by August. The contest is open to all club members and more information is available in June's Edge magazine.

Services staff members said they have been working with members of the club through both the advisory board and focus groups to make sure everyone's needs are addressed as the clubs merge.

Aaron Feinburg, club manager, said members of the advisory council are working together to develop some ideas and concepts to enhance the experience of officers and enlisted members at the club.

Some members of the Robins community are concerned about the consolidation and how it will affect members of the enlisted and officer ranks. One of the many issues addressed included concern over enlisted and officers socializing together.

"The whole idea behind the enlisted club is to have a place to go and unwind and the military structure has always been based on no fraternization. How can you mix the two without mixing up the structure?" said Wendy Floyd, a production management specialist with the 568th Aircraft Sustainment Squadron.

She said she thinks the consolidation is a mistake and will result in less club members.

Capt. Sammie Thompson sees the opportunity for enlisted and officers to interact as both a positive and a negative.

He said many officers, especially in the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, don't have an opportunity to interact with enlisted members so it will be good for them to have an opportunity to do so. However, he said the opportunity to interact in a social setting can also cause problems because when military members aren't in uniform there is no way to distinguish between commissioned and noncommissioned Airmen.

"We have to realize we are on a military installation - we are officers and we are enlisted. If there is ever any situation where we need to put that relationship in check, we need to do that on the spot, but cordially," Captain Thompson said.

Members of the services staff said they are optimistic the consolidation can be a positive change for all members.

"We are going to create an environment where we can all have a good time collectively without worrying about fraternization," said John Filler, chief of business operations flight.

As the two clubs continue to consolidate, more activities will be offered to all ranks and grades. The first combined First Friday will be held on July 13 at 4:30 p.m. The event will be a pool party extravaganza with something for everyone, including a live band, food and activities for children.