Air Force spouse steps up for neighbors with deployed partners by cleaning their homes for free
Stars and Stripes January 19, 2023
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Danielle Gomez takes seriously the concept of “pay it forward.”
An act of kindness from a stranger inspired her to offer free housecleaning services to the families of deployed service members at Yokota, she told Stars and Stripes on Dec. 30.
When her husband, Master Sgt. Max Gomez, deployed in 2019 she was disappointed to find that no one from his unit checked on her or their children while he was away.
“My neighbor was the one who was there 100%, and we didn’t even really know her,” said Gomez, 35, of Los Angeles. “She would cook food for us, offer to watch my kids, invite us on trips, and it made all the difference. Her impact on how I felt I could better serve the community was the driving force behind this.”
Since October, Gomez says she’s cleaned seven homes on base for free, in residential towers and garden duplexes. She posted her offer in the Yokota Community Facebook group and asks nothing in return. She said she provides all the cleaning materials and equipment and can return on another day, if asked.
Desiree Thompson, 33, took Gomez up on her offer in October while her husband, Senior Airman Christopher Thompson, was deployed. Thompson took a day to spend time with her kids and not worry about the house, she said Jan. 6.
“It was an incredibly relieving feeling,” Thompson said. “As a spouse, you want to be strong and it’s difficult sometimes to ask for help, but seeing her post about it and knowing she wants to help makes it a little easier to make that step and ask for help.”
Thompson had trouble accepting that Gomez expects nothing in return, but Gomez refused any compensation.
Gomez said she and her family, including their three children, have always looked for ways to help their military neighbors wherever they’re stationed. She started looking for ways to make a difference at Yokota soon after arriving in November 2018.
Many spouses at Yokota also work, and a deployed partner means juggling child care, their jobs and their social lives. Gomez wanted to make sure the stay-behind spouses know they don’t have to take on all those responsibilities themselves. She also wants to help them maintain a positive mindset while their spouse is deployed.
“I’ve not been in the workforce for 10 years, so I felt like I have the time, I have the energy, and I have the means, so I felt like it could be a resource that maybe some people would be willing to take my offer on.”
Gomez has since extended her cleaning services to single parents on active duty and encourages others to find ways to give back to the community and help each other through difficult times.
“It doesn’t have to be cleaning,” she said. “It could be as simple as going out for a coffee date. People can come up with so many ideas if they wanted to.”