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Airmen take pride in making dorms feel like home

By Airman 1st Class Curt Beach 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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Being a single, first-term Airman means living in base dormitories. Some Airmen treat this transition period like a stop at a train station and keep their sights set on the next location, while others take the time to enjoy the scenery.

For Senior Airman Shellby Matullo and Airman 1st Class Lauren O'Connor, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs broadcast journalists, making their shared dormitory suite organized and welcoming is not a chore, but a passion.

"The reason why we love to make the room inviting and clean is because it's a spirit-lifter," said Matullo. "When you make it your own place, make it home, a place you enjoy being, you're happier when you come and go. If you're happy, that's going to carry over into other areas of your life."

While living in the dorms may only make up the early chapters of an Airmen's career, these two friends, who have known each other since their technical training, make it their own.

"It doesn't matter if it's going to be only two or three years, this is still our home," said O'Connor. "We take pride in it. Some days I can spend up to 12 hours at work, so when I come home and feel comforted by our place, it relaxes me."

Something the two have done that is rarely seen among other base dorms is to give the outside a welcoming appearance as well.

"We have chairs outside," said Matullo. "We sit out there and talk on nice days. If we have a friend over, and they see all the bright colors and flowers, it's warming and they say they feel welcome."

Adding your own personality and style can be done without spending a lot of money.

"We do this on a budget," said Matullo. "We've gotten a lot of our stuff from the Airmen's Attic, which is one of our favorite places on base. Granted, we'll pick things up sometimes if we go shopping here and there. It's been a process."

The time and energy Airmen put into their living spaces hasn't gone unnoticed.

"My first impression of their rooms was that they looked like something out of a home décor magazine," said Master Sgt. Marcus Kelley, 2nd Comptroller Squadron first sergeant. "Not only do they exceed the expected standards for neatness, cleanliness, and sanitation, but they had teamed together to perform self-help improvements to the wall paint and curtains.  Their rooms reflect their individual personalities but both exude the same level of tasteful decoration without becoming cluttered.  Care was obviously given to make the best of dormitory living."

Airman dormitory leaders agree and use the ladies' dorm as a standard.

"Many Airmen do not realize how much of a spotlight the dorms are under," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Wall, 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron Airman dormitory leader. "There are so many eyes that see the dorms ranging from squadron room inspections to Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps tours. We get regular visits from recruiters with potential new Airmen, so the dorms are the focus for a lot of opinions."

Matullo and O'Connor have also received recognition for their cleanliness and organization from the Top Three, base leadership, and distinguished visitors such as Brig. Gen. Tim Green. The pair has received numerous awards for dorm room excellence as well as honors such as "Dorm Room of the Month."

"I have been a direct and indirect supervisor of unaccompanied Airmen for over 16 years," said Kelley. "I have been involved with quite a few room inspections separate from when I lived in the dorms.  I can safely say I have only seen a few rooms in those years that even come close to theirs. Your home is truly a reflection of you, whether it is clean or messy. As a leader, I would expect that I would find this quality in everything this person does, and I would want others to follow their example."