The Connection offers refuge for Airmen

Members of the 39th Security Forces Squadron set up an assortment of food for a free Airman's dinner at The Connection Dec. 1, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.  The Connection, a building and program run by the 39th Air Base Wing Chapel, provides unaccompanied Airmen sanctuary from the hectic bustle outside the building’s walls. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

Members of the 39th Security Forces Squadron set up an assortment of food for a free Airman's dinner at The Connection Dec. 1, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The Connection, a building and program run by the 39th Air Base Wing Chapel, provides unaccompanied Airmen sanctuary from the hectic bustle outside the building’s walls. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

Senior Airman Thomas Jean, 39th Communications Squadron postal clerk, left, and Senior Airman Brianna Bergstrand, center, 39th Air Base Wing knowledge operator, get food from Master Sgt. Jamie Eichhorn, 39th Security Forces Squadron logistics superintendent, during a free Airman's dinner at The Connection Dec. 1, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.  The Connection, a building and program run by the 39th Air Base Wing Chapel, provides unaccompanied Airmen sanctuary from the hectic bustle outside the building’s walls. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

Senior Airman Thomas Jean, 39th Communications Squadron postal clerk, left, and Senior Airman Brianna Bergstrand, center, 39th Air Base Wing knowledge operator, get food from Master Sgt. Jamie Eichhorn, 39th Security Forces Squadron logistics superintendent, during a free Airman's dinner at The Connection Dec. 1, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The Connection, a building and program run by the 39th Air Base Wing Chapel, provides unaccompanied Airmen sanctuary from the hectic bustle outside the building’s walls. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

Senior Airman Timothy Place, 39th Security Forces Squadron base defense operations center controller, fills a plate with vegetables during a free Airman's dinner at The Connection Dec. 1, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.  The Connection, a building and program run by the 39th Air Base Wing Chapel, provides unaccompanied Airmen sanctuary from the hectic bustle outside the building’s walls. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

Senior Airman Timothy Place, 39th Security Forces Squadron base defense operations center controller, fills a plate with vegetables during a free Airman's dinner at The Connection Dec. 1, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The Connection, a building and program run by the 39th Air Base Wing Chapel, provides unaccompanied Airmen sanctuary from the hectic bustle outside the building’s walls. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- In a central location for dormitory residents, The Connection, a building and program run by the 39th Air Base Wing Chapel provides unaccompanied Airmen sanctuary from the hectic bustle outside the building's walls.

Stocked with board games, internet access, movies, snacks and drinks, The Connection is a "spiritual oasis" and alternative social scene to Airmen of all faiths or of no religious preference, according to Tech. Sgt. Melissa Wells, a volunteer team lead for the program.

"Everything is free of charge - chapel funded," Wells said. "It's good clean fun, basically."

From a quiet study location to a getaway for dorm residents or a place to reserve for hosting a party, the building is available for use by an assortment of people and personalities, but there are rules to maintaining The Connection as a peaceful escape. Such rules involve disallowing alcoholic beverages and foul language. Volunteers also ensure people 18 years old and younger are not present unless a family-friendly event is ongoing.

"It's a ministry center geared toward single and unaccompanied Airmen. It's also for others, but the single and unaccompanied Airmen take precedence," Wells noted. "People can reserve use of the room if it's available."

Many groups meet at The Connection to include Mothers of Preschoolers, Protestant Men and Women of the Chapel, and others. There are also events hosted for unaccompanied Airmen such as game and movie nights, forums for various topics of discussion, social events for people to network and mingle, as well as occasional family events.

Events are generally advertised from the chaplains to leadership, and the information trickles down to Airmen to inform them of upcoming gatherings, Wells explained. Whether an event is held or not often depends on the availability of volunteers, as well as conflicting dates and times with base-wide events already scheduled.

People can go to read a book, make a coffee or just relax. They can also "bring food to cook in The Connection's kitchen facility as long as they clean up," Wells said.

With so many activities, entertainment outlets and opportunities to meet new people, The Connection serves an often necessary function for Airmen serving on a short tour - a haven away from work, outside noise and undesirable social situations.

"I think it's beneficial because if going out and drinking is not your thing or being in an aggressive environment is not your forte, The Connection is an alternative. Anybody involved with The Connection has a spirit and aura that is positive," Wells explained. "There, I'm at ease and comfortable. The main reason I wanted to volunteer is because it makes me feel good and I enjoy being there for other Airmen."

Part of Wells's role as a volunteer team lead is to find additional volunteers to aid in managing The Connection, either sporadically or as regulars.

"I'm responsible for certain days to find volunteers. It does take up a lot of personal time to volunteer at The Connection, so it takes a special kind of person who is willing to use that personal time," Wells noted.

Anyone interested in becoming a regular or occasional volunteer at The Connection, people are needed 6 - 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. To volunteer, call the chapel at DSN 676-6441 or Wells at DSN 676-3204.