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Higher Grounds builds community for Airmen

Airmen play a game of pool while others play ping pong Oct. 28, 2015 in the Higher Grounds Airmen Ministry Center, Bldg. 248, on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. The center aims to create a local community for Airmen to go to and relax each night during the week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Valle)

Airmen play a game of pool while others play ping pong Oct. 28, 2015 in the Higher Grounds Airmen Ministry Center, Bldg. 248, on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. The center aims to create a local community for Airmen to go to and relax each night during the week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Valle)

Debbie Ellgen, Higher Grounds Airmen Ministry Center co-director speaks with Airmen after dinner Oct. 28, 2015, in the center located in Bldg. 248 on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. Ellgen cooks dinners for Airmen three times a week to help foster a family-like community in the center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Valle)

Debbie Ellgen, Higher Grounds Airmen Ministry Center co-director speaks with Airmen after dinner Oct. 28, 2015, in the center located in Bldg. 248 on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. Ellgen cooks dinners for Airmen three times a week to help foster a family-like community in the center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Valle)

Brad Ellgen, Higher Grounds Airmen Ministry Center Co-director, provides mentoring on character to Airmen Oct. 28, 2015, in the center located in Bldg. 248, on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. Ellgen leads the sessions once a week for Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Valle)

Brad Ellgen, Higher Grounds Airmen Ministry Center Co-director, provides mentoring on character to Airmen Oct. 28, 2015, in the center located in Bldg. 248, on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. Ellgen leads the sessions once a week for Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Valle)

Signs direct Airmen towards the Higher Grounds Airmen Ministry Center in the basement of Building 248 on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. The Airmen Center provides free cable TV, gaming systems with up-to-date games, free sodas and snacks, and a place for Airmen to hang out. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Valle)

Signs direct Airmen towards the Higher Grounds Airmen Ministry Center in the basement of Building 248 on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. The Airmen Center provides free cable TV, gaming systems with up-to-date games, free sodas and snacks, and a place for Airmen to hang out. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Valle)

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- The Higher Grounds Airmen Ministry Center is open Mondays thru Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m. for Airmen to get hang out and relax. 

"The purpose of the Airmen Ministry Center is broken into four categories: to create an authentic community, foster spiritual and character development, leadership development and service to others," said Chaplain (Capt.) Samuel McClellan, 90th Missile Wing chaplain. 

The center, located in the basement of the security forces dorm in Bldg. 248, provides cable TV, gaming systems with up-to-date games, free sodas and snacks, and a place for Airmen to hang out without traveling far.

Brad and Debbie Ellgen are the directors of the center, working to create an atmosphere where Airmen can meet and have fun without resorting to any negatives, such as alcohol.

"We talk with the Airmen, ask them about their day and help them in any ways we can," Debbie said. "We feel this helps create a community where Airmen can come and talk about what's going on."

In order to build upon the idea of a family-like community, Debbie cooks meals for the Airmen Wednesdays thru Fridays. 

As the community of Airmen grows, the Ellgens work to provide mentoring sessions for the Airmen that are designed to help them grow as individuals.

"One night a week, we have some sort of mentoring session with the Airmen who wish to participate," Brad said. "One week we have a discussion where we talk about a certain topic revolving around the growth and development of a person as a whole, and the next week we watch a movie that ties into the topic discussed."

The most recent session covered the idea on how being a part of a community affects your character and leadership abilities.

Airmen are also given opportunities to volunteer through the Airmen Ministry Center.
"Airmen can be trained to run the center on their own, which takes approximately 20 hours of training before we let them out alone," McClellan said.

Also, once a month, Airmen get together and volunteer to serve the homeless at the Comea House Homeless Shelter.

Currently, the center averages 15 Airmen a night, but hope to bring in a bigger community of Airmen.

"This is a place for all Airmen, a place where we are building a community," Brad said. "We extend an invite to every Airman to come out and meet fellow Airmen, make friends and learn to enjoy the base a bit more."