Voice of empowerment: Women's History Month luncheon

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Killian
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 6th Air Refueling Wing recognized the accomplishments and struggles of women, both past and present, at a Women's History Month luncheon, March 11, inside the chapel annex.

Women's History Month is celebrated every March, seeking to raise awareness of the contributions of women throughout history. The observance started as a one-day event in 1978 that later evolved into a week-long celebration. Nearly a decade after its inception, it is now celebrated for the entirety of a month.

MacDill celebrated this occasion by inviting April Arnold, a Tampa Bay local women’s advocate, to be a key guest at the luncheon. She spoke to Airmen about her story and spread the message of women's empowerment.

She spoke about her story of resilience and how she gives back to those in need. Her childhood was plagued by abuse, drugs and sexual exploitation, but through her strength and faith, she has remained 14 years clean. She is now a full-time employee Created Tampa, a nonprofit committed to assisting outreach programs and providing community assistance to those in a position she once was in.

Staff Sgt. Peteranthony Anakwe, 6th Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion craftsman, said he found a lot of value in hearing from both service members and civilians. “April Arnold being a civilian brought more awareness to the wider community around MacDill,” Anakwe said.

Arnold credits a lot of her success to her faith and the many people who helped her during her time of need.

“My life has changed because they walked alongside me and loved me until I could love myself; they could see me even though I didn't see myself,” said Arnold. “I’ve come a long way, and I have a lot to say. I have a lot more work to do and I'll never stop doing what I do. I will never relapse.”

She hopes to inspire those who are going through tough situations to seek mental health. She also hopes to inspire Airmen to volunteer for outreach programs and to lend a helping hand to vulnerable women.

“We have so many opportunities to volunteer,” said Arnold.  “We do street outreach. We have a computer lab open five days a week where women can spend three hours a day working on their General Education Development studies.”

Arnold advocates for mental health and preaches how therapy has been a non-negotiable asset in her life, especially when helping guide vulnerable women. She wants to be a lifelong advocate for volunteer work and to see Airmen make a positive impact wherever they go.