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Whiteman families build bonds, style hair

Senior Master Sgt. Ed Francois and his wife Tech. Sgt. Brenda Francois style their daughter JazLynn's hair.

Senior Master Sgt. Ed Francois and his wife Tech. Sgt. Brenda Francois work, both assigned to the 509th Maintenance Group, collaborate to style their daughter JazLynn's hair on Nov. 11, 2018 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. The Francois family reinforced strong bonds during the first Braids to Buns event, which was geared toward connecting military families before and after deployments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

Willow Brewer looks in the mirror during the first Braids to Buns event at Whiteman Air Force Base.

Willow Brewer looks in the mirror during the first Braids to Buns event on Nov. 6, 2018 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. She bonded with her father, Master Sgt. Cody Brewer, assigned to the 509th Communications Squadron, who recently returned from a deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

The Airman and Family Readiness Program at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, hosted the first Braids to Buns event on November 6, 2018 at the base’s Youth Center.

 

Braids to Buns is a hair-styling workshop designed by the A&FRC as part of its larger initiative, the Hearts Apart program, which offers support to military family members during deployments. The workshop creates an opportunity parents and daughters to bond, whether they are just returning from deployment or preparing to head out.

 

“We teamed with the Youth Center and a local stylist to create the event,” said Tech. Sgt. Kira M. Otero, the 509th Force Support Squadron readiness NCO. “This program isn’t funded, so we worked with the many agencies around the wing to take care of our families. We received financial support from the First Sergeants Council.”

 

The A&FRC hosts Hearts Apart events on a monthly basis for deployed and remote-assignment affected families, including the annual Operation Spirit mock deployment for children and discounted painting activities at Missions End.

 

Otero emphasized the importance of Hearts Apart initiatives.

 

“They are introduced to and learn to network with other families who are going through the same experiences,” said Otero. “This is key in building relationships to sustain them through deployments and remote tours and beyond.”

 

Otero said the events also give base leaders the opportunity to get face time with Airmen and their families together.

 

Jasimen Williams, wife of Senior Airman Brandon Williams, assigned to the base contracting office, is a certified cosmetologist. She worked with four other stylists to facilitate the event.

 

“I’m excited to be able to show parents how to style their children’s hair,” said Williams. “It is an important skill that can help build confidence.”

 

Twenty parents and 24 children registered to participate in the Braids to Buns event.

 

Master Sgt. Cody Brewer, assigned to the 509th Communications Squadron, recently returned from a deployment. He attended the event with his daughter Willow.

 

Brewer said the event taught him how to branch out of his go-to hairstyle: the ponytail.

 

“I thought the event was an awesome success,” he said. “Willow and I really enjoyed it. The instructors were a tremendous help and very patient with the dads trying to understand the concepts.”

 

Braids to Buns allows parents to engage one another in a learning environment, said Otero.

 

“It’s important for children to see parents learning and vulnerable to failing so that they can watch their parent overcome the challenges they face so that they too can overcome challenges,” she said.