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Director shares art of giving - grandma's style

  • Published
  • By Joe B. Wiles
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
When Kim Winfield comes up with ways to teach the art of giving to her School Age Program students here, she often uses examples she learned from her grandmother, Beulah Driever.

"When you do something for someone, no matter what it may be, you get something from it," said Mrs. Winfield, SAP director. "My grandmother was always doing something for someone. She passed that attitude on to my mother who passed it to her four children."

The school age program is for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. "Some of our SAP kids have gone to the Child Development Center on base to read to the little ones and have helped clean up the flower beds over there," Mrs. Winfield said.

"We want the children to realize that it doesn't matter how little it is, you can help someone and make a difference," she said.

Grandma Driever would be proud.

She made a difference for lots of folks, especially flying students training at Vance AFB in the late 1950s. Grandma Driever had students over for Thanksgiving and Christmas. One of those students, Arturo Rivera, went on to become an aide to the president of Venezuela.

When Grandma Driever died in 1970, then Major Rivera wrote to Grandpa Driever to express his sorrow at the news. "Mother Driever gave us a home and made tremendous effort to make us feel like part of her family," he wrote.

Grandma Driever literally made a couple of students part of the family. "Two of my aunts married student pilots," Mrs. Winfield said.

An average of 30 SAP children are cared for by Mrs. Winfield and her five counselors during two shifts. "We have before school and after school sessions and are full-time during the summer," she said.

Her staff has the same drive to help the SAP kids learn about the joy of giving. "Each of us keeps our ears open, looking for ways to encourage the children, to catch them sparkling, doing good," Mrs. Winfield said.

"A few weeks ago when the general (Gen. Stephen Lorenz, commander of the Air Education and Training Command) was on base visiting, it was so windy and tumbleweeds were everywhere. The teen center needed help getting the tumbleweeds picked up so they could look their best when the general's wife (Mrs. Leslie Lorenz) visited the facility," she said. "A group of the kids went over to the teen center, picked up the tumbleweeds and bagged them in trash sacks," Mrs. Winfield said. "When they were done, they came back to the SAP center and discussed how they felt about performing a service. They felt good, not only because they performed a service to the teen center, but for the general as well."

She came to the SAP center six years ago. But she doesn't remember a time she wasn't working with children.

"I started right out of high school with a home day-care center," she said. Then there was vacation Bible school and child care at church, volunteering at the YWCA, working as the children's librarian at the Enid Public Library and finally SAP at Vance.

"I started out as the registrar out front and three years later the director's position came open," Mrs. Winfield said. "Jamie Crowell with Wing Protocol was the SAP director at the time, and she really encouraged me. She knew this job was in my heart."

Mrs. Winfield has since completed an associate's degree in child development at Northern Oklahoma College in Enid.

"One of the things I find wonderful about this job is getting to know these military families. They come here from somewhere far away, a different culture, and when they leave they stay in touch," she said. "It is so neat to know you touched them enough that they don't want to lose track of you."

"There are some children that you really make a connection with - and they with you - to the point that they don't want to let go and you don't want to let go. At times you wish you wouldn't get so attached because you know they aren't staying here.

"One child just recently left that was in the program the entire time I've been here. That was very difficult," Mrs. Winfield said, as a tear rolled down her cheek.

The SAP director sent out an e-mail one day, to remind parents when they send their children to the program, send them in clothes that it doesn't matter if they get dirty.

"We're going to encourage them to explore, and exploring is messy work," Mrs. Winfield said. "Their clothes will wash, but this moment of learning something and doing something and trying something is very important.

"We have challenges and we have successes with the children. The important thing is to plant the seed, to put a positive thought in their heads," she said. "It is important to teach them how to give."

Grandma Driever would be proud.