Higher Grounds, the living room for dorm Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rebecca Imwalle
  • 28th Bomb Wings Public Affairs
For the past 40 years, a volunteer has worked with Higher Grounds, a program that provides Airmen residing in the dorms with what he describes as a living room experience.

"I love serving [Airmen] and providing a place they can enjoy coming together, find friendships, relax and have fun." said Doyle Spader, Higher Grounds lead volunteer.
Spader has volunteered for the program here since 1998.

Before coming to Ellsworth in 1998, he worked with the Chaplain Corps and Airmen Ministry Centers at Camp Pendleton, Calif., for five years, a year at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif., and another 13 years at Feucht Army Airfield, Nuremberg, Germany.

"What I enjoy the most are the relationships I build here," Spader said. "I've gotten to know friends who have been all over the United States and are now stationed here."
With more than 40 years of experience, he has developed an ability to connect with people, especially Airmen, and as a result volunteers look forward to taking part in the program.

Airman 1st Class Christopher Harrison, 28th Communications Squadron cyber security technician, met Spader when he first visited Higher Grounds in April 2014, and began volunteering the following October.

"When I first came to Ellsworth, I was one of those people who would just stay in my room all day," Harrison said. "When I started going to Higher Grounds, I met [him] and immediately realized how nice he was. He's the kind of person who really does approach you to try and get to know you."

As a volunteer, Harrison works at least once a week at Higher Grounds to ensure the facility is up and running. Volunteers play a large role in maintaining the facility where they serve drinks, play games and show movies as a way for dorm residents to feel welcome.

"I really enjoy it here," Harrison said. "It has given me the feeling of having a second home. It's a place to hang out, watch movies and be comfortable."

Each week Spader plans special events to help drive the program, such as Thursday night dinners and Make Your Own Pizza Night on Fridays. It helps those new to the base get out and connect with others, which meets his goal of providing a fun place for Airmen to socialize.

Although it takes a lot of work to run Higher Grounds, Spader says the biggest reason he keeps working with the program is because he continues to meet great people.