It’s always a great day when a U.S. Navy squadron appears out of the blue to offer assistance. For SPiN Cafe, that great day happened two months ago when VAQ 209, the Star Warriors of NAS Whidbey, approached us to offer support to our sack meal program.
Athena Peterson, 209’s Volunteer Coordinator, found SPiN on line when searching for a way to get the squadron involved in the Oak Harbor community. “They needed someone to serve meals on Sundays,” Athena says. “So we signed up. I’m so glad we did. It’s been nice giving back to the people of Whidbey.” There’s an extra personal motivation for Athena’s work to improve life for local citizens. Among the usual host of Navy personnel from all over the country at NASWI, she’s a local herself. “I’m from Burlington,” she says. “So maybe this means a little more to me. But it’s been great for all of us to get involved with the community.”
Athena shows up to serve lunch every Sunday, and she has a core handful of fellow sailors who join her on a rotating basis. Due to COVID restrictions, she’s only allowed one helper at a time. Still, it’s been a wonderful experience.
Our Navy neighbors on Whidbey are always prepared to travel to far corners of the world, and Athena is working on contingency plans in case the squadron needs to deploy. She’s setting up local family members who can still help if needed, so there will be no break in their service to our guests at SPiN.
SPiN’s guests have been extra grateful, Athena says, for the help, for the great food, for the sense of togetherness in a park around a meal.
“One lady even sang me a song. That was… wow. Amazing.”
SPiN salutes you, VAQ 209. Many thanks for your service to our nation and for your assistance here in Oak Harbor.
Did you know?
- VAQ 209 was established in 1977 at NAS Norfolk, VA
- In 43 years the squadron has flown the EA-6A Intruder, EA-6B Prowler, and, since 2014, the EA-18G Growler.
- 209 moved its home port to NAS Whidbey Island in 2013.
- In a yearlong transition to the EA-18G Growler aircraft during 2013-14, 209’s dedicated aircrew and maintenance personnel detached for training at Andrews AFB, NAS Oceana, NAS Point Mugu, NAS JRB New Orleans, NAS Key West, NAS Fallon, Eielson AFB, MCAS Miramar, and Nellis AFB.
- 209’s use of the Darth Vader image comes under special permission from Lucasfilm Inc.