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NEWS | Sept. 26, 2017

White Rope program embodies service before self

By Airman 1st Class Dillon Parker 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Each weekend as Air Force technical training students are resting up, preparing for another week of training, White Ropes of the 37th Training Wing are jumping out of bed to serve others.

The White Rope program is a 37th TRW student-led program that involves countless volunteer hours and leadership through service.

Airmen from various technical training squadrons around Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland spend their weekends serving as White Ropes. In addition to providing leadership to their fellow students throughout the week, White Ropes volunteer their services to the local community at food banks, orphanages and other community centers. On Sundays, they act as the backbone to 33 religious services and classes supporting nearly 7,200 basic military trainees and technical training students.

Back in July, White Ropes focused on helping PJ’s Orphanage and Autumn Leaves, a mental care facility for Alzheimer’s disease, said Michael Jefferson, director of the 37th TRW White Rope Program.

“The first Saturday of the month, we stood outside the main commissary here and collected over 600 personal care items for the kids at the orphanage,” said Jefferson.

In the following weeks White Ropes spent their Saturdays at the orphanage, delivering items, having a cookout, and participating in a beautification project. Finishing out the month, White Ropes spent the last Saturday at Autumn Leaves playing board games and talking with patients, added Jefferson.

“The community around here loves the military,” said Jefferson. “That allows these Airmen to have an incredible impact through these projects. Not only that, but because of the relentlessness of the military mentality, we can get a lot done in just one day.”

White Ropes devote their entire Sunday to serving.

“They do a lot. Every Sunday, they give 12 hours (of themselves),” said Jefferson. “They have to be here at 5:45 am to start setting up for the day’s services.”

With only one chaplain assistant on duty, White Ropes are responsible for making sure everything is provided for the day’s services.

“They set the table, they go out there and prepare everything that’s needed for the services,” said Jefferson. “When the chaplain comes all he has to do is preach, everything is already done.”

White Ropes also attend each service to provide leadership and fellowship to attendees, explained Jefferson.

“Sometimes they’ve got to give the trainees words of encouragement or be a living testament,” said Jefferson. “Sometimes they’re just there to give them some hope, smile and say it’ll be alright.”

Along with all the hard work put in by White Ropes on the weekends, they are also responsible for taking care of The Refuge.

“The Refuge is a place to go to relax,” said Airman 1st Class Eryn Murphy, a 343rd Training Squadron student and White Rope. “It’s pretty much a way for all the tech schoolers and their families to relax with games, movies, snacks and music.”

While the schedule is very demanding, Murphy loves being a White Rope.

“I definitely love being able to help people,” said Murphy. “When we went to the orphanage, it was amazing to see all the children smiling. I love being able to make people smile, even if it is something small.”

Jefferson added while White Ropes work extremely hard, the program is not without benefit.

“We develop the Air Force’s next future leaders; they’re ready to jump out of bed and do what needs to be done,” said Jefferson. “Sometimes it’s a thankless job, but they’re gaining skills that will help a lot in their lives.”

“I think it’s an amazing program,” said Murphy. “There’s always something to do and people to help. I’m so happy I joined the program, it’s definitely helped me in so many ways.”