Altus AFB Women Empower Women

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kari Degraffenreed
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

On the first Wednesday of every month, the smell of doughnuts and coffee wafts throughout the multi-purpose room in the base exchange, while women from both active-duty and civilian roles around Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, network through smiles, laughter, and tears at Coffee and Connect.

“The importance of Coffee and Connect is purely the connection between the women on base who know that they need it,” said Maj. Meg Edson, 58th Airlift Squadron instructor pilot, and Coffee and Connect organizer. “It’s also for the ones that come through and realize that it's something that could fit in their life - the connection, the friendship, and mentorship - because there's always moments where someone speaks up and everyone benefits from it.”

The group, started by Jennifer Blaser-Kay, 97th Contracting Flight contracting officer, Chief Master Sgt. Laura Hoover, 22nd Air Refueling Wing command chief, and Maj. Rebecca Gooch, 146th Air Refueling Squadron pilot, aims to foster professional growth and networking opportunities. Members participate in discussions ranging from career development to work-life balance, as well as sharing their experiences as women within the military.

“Women need to know they are not alone,” Blaser-Kay said. “Whether you’ve gone through infertility or relationship problems, most likely there are other women at Coffee and Connect who can relate to you. Even if it’s just listening to your story so you can come away thinking, ‘They did it, I can do it too.’”

Blaser-Kay also highlighted the importance of Coffee and Connect in providing a supportive environment for women in the military and civilian workforce.

“It’s a place for women to be open and honest,” she said. “It’s a place where you can take the facade off, you don’t have to be stoic or serious or pretend nothing hurts you or makes you sad. You can just let the walls down and connect with other women who have gone through similar experiences.”

As Coffee and Connect continues to grow with each meeting, the group reinforces its commitment to empowerment, mentorship, and community among women at Altus AFB.