Officer vital link between Mildenhall, charity
RAF MILDENHALL, England — Someone has to take the point. Someone has to be responsible for carrying the mail, for ferrying the information between two points.
In this case, it is 1st Lt. Adam Minnich, the middleman between the ongoing financial needs of East Anglia Children’s Hospices and the big hearts of Air Force members at RAF Mildenhall.
In the past two years, the men and women at the base have helped raise more than $100,000 for the English charity that offers comfort and care for terminally ill children and their families in eastern England.
Several times a year, base personnel provide the manpower at fund-raising events for the charity. It is Minnich’s task to make them aware of the events and coordinate their participation.
“Getting volunteers is the easy part,” he said. “I have to turn people away. I think a lot of people are willing to do it because they want to interact with the local community. They want to give something back.”
Minnich is the liaison between the base and the organization, which operates three hospices in Milton, Ipswich and Quidenham. He is the man the organization contacts when it needs something and the man who takes that need to the base personnel, usually through the Company Grade Officers Council, which takes on the task.
“Adam has been pretty much the link to keeping us all together,” said 1st Lt. Jennifer Coyne, president of the council. “It’s a personal commitment he’s taken on and he takes us with him.”
Robin Sharp, community fund-raiser for the hospice organization, said Minnich has “taken the baton” from his predecessors, who have helped forge a strong relationship between the base and the hospices.
“It’s sort of ongoing support which good old Adam has taken on,” said Sharp.
Sharp said the hospices need 4 million British pounds — about $7 million — annually. Only about 1 million pounds is provided through grants and the like. The rest is raised through constant effort and with the help of volunteers willing to give time.
He said base personnel have been integral in helping raise funds for several years. They help out at an annual bicycle ride, which raises money through pledges. They were there to assist with a golf tournament last summer that brought funds to the hospices’ coffers.
A program called Kammies for Kids has collected worn-out battle dress uniforms for resale in hospice thrift shops. The uniforms are popular with house painters, mechanics and British teenagers.
“Especially the desert ones,” Minnich said.
Not all of the base’s help is about raising money. In October, several siblings of the terminally ill children cared for in the hospices were guests of the 100th Air Refueling Wing, receiving attention that usually goes to their ill brothers or sisters.
The base also conducts a Pilot for a Day program, providing a sick youngster with a full day of special treatment and behind-the-scenes visits at the base.
Sharp said the relationship between the base and the hospices is important.
“We’re rather glad you’re here,” he said of the base and its airmen.
Minnich does some things beyond his liaison work. For example, he has placed boxes in the post office on base with a sign asking people to stuff the canceled stamps from their letters inside. He gives the stamps to the hospice, which sells them.
Sharp said dealers and collectors pay 5 pounds — about $9 — for one pound of foreign stamps. By comparison, they pay half a pound — less than $1 — for the same weight in British stamps.
Minnich also helps the hospices by changing U.S. money dropped in the organization’s donation boxes into British pounds at the community bank.
“It’s all these little things which he’s been doing for us,” Sharp said.
Minnich knows he is a cog in the bigger wheel that rolls between RAF Mildenhall and East Anglia Children’s Hospices. He’s happy doing his part to keep the two organizations on each other’s minds — providing the legwork that keeps them together.
“It’s a good relationship,” he said. “We get from them satisfaction. They get from us valuable resources to continue the job that they do.”