One Meal, Two Souls-An Airman gives back during Pandemic

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Della Creech
  • Headquarters Air Reserve Personnel Center

With no bed to call home, 6,104 Denver residents are homeless. Last year, there were about 568,000 homeless people across America and more than 37,000 were veterans according to The National Alliance to End Homelessness. One Airman accepted his call to duty to make a difference in his local community.

His passion flows through his hopeful eyes and smile beneath his mask, Staff Sgt. Jimmy Mrosko, assignment technician at the Headquarters Air Reserve Personnel Center here, breathes life into every word he mentions about giving back to the homeless community at the Denver Rescue Mission in Denver.

“So many people have given me that second chance, more than a second chance, and this is my opportunity to give back,” said Mrosko. “In only nine months, my team of volunteers has delivered roughly 6,000 meals at the DRM.”

Mrosko began his journey as a young Airman by simply making a few choices that turned into a favorable future within the Air Force, but he continued to resonate on how his decisions led him to where he is today.

According to Mrosko, he sees himself in every person he helps at the shelter, there are people of all ages and backgrounds that simply made a few choices that led them to becoming homeless. Mrosko could see that mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, can greatly alter someone’s future if neglected.

As a teen, he struggled in silence with these challenges and became grateful to have a community that helped him overcome suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and depression.

“Mental health is a very real thing, being open about what's on your mind is key to balancing mental strength,” said Mrosko. “It’s a snowball effect and we’ve all been there.”

As a personnelist, Mrosko must stay mentally strong to help place the right Airman within the right Air Force assignment. In his role, he builds a bridge for communicating to Airmen in all walks of life.

During his 2018 deployment, Mrosko worked hard to stay mentally strong and support those around him.

“Jimmy was very approachable and able to communicate well with all of the personnel who came through for processing. I think this led to his success on our deployment and at ARPC,” said Master Sgt. Jonathan Hogue, first sergeant at the 26th Network Operations Squadron, Maxwell-Gunter AFB, AL.

Hogue was a mentor to Mrosko at the critical point in his AF career where he was questioning his confidence in how he could continue to grow within the military, soon the same anxiety and self-doubt had rekindled. But his potential shined through, Hogue stepped in when he saw that Mrosko was a consistent hard worker who cared about others.

“Daily, he was someone I could count on to show up and get it done. I challenged him constantly during our deployment because I saw the potential for him to lead Airmen,” said Hogue.

Soon after, Hogue flew cross-country to fulfill his promise to be there when Mrosko graduated from Airman Leadership School. His support inspired Mrosko to recognize his potential for growth and seek a higher purpose.

Mrosko was looking for a purpose and leading Airmen is just what he did, since then he was motivated to aspire in any way once he arrived at HQ ARPC by using his leadership skills from his deployment. Today he is a hands-on leader in his directorate as an AGR management technician, responsible for placing the right airman on the right assignments.

Today, “mission requirements have grown 39% over the past two years and I am so grateful to have an Airman like Staff Sgt. Mrosko's caliber on the team during this challenging season,” said Maj. Camlon Rooke, AGR management branch Chief. "His contributions have been critical to our sustained success."

We are busier than ever, our team does everything from orders to pay and career management guidance for about 5,300 Airmen across the Air National Guard and Reserve. His true teamwork mentality, humility, and contributions make him nonpareil, said Rooke.

Since arriving at HQ ARPC, Mrosko’s impact has been felt throughout the organization and the local community.

Over the past year, he has grown a volunteer team from about 10 people within his office at the HQ ARPC, to a little over 100 volunteers in about nine month’s time.

Mrosko said, “with the Denver homeless population seeming to double over the past year, the DRM was in need of volunteers more than ever.” 

In his time at DRM, the people seeking resources at the there had “grown so much that they have had to make shelters out of the Denver Coliseum where they usually put on large events such as professional basketball games,” he said.

It began by Mrosko reaching out to serve meals for a few hours at a time, then he asked his section AGR Management to lend any helping hands and it grew to the booster club. Now he’s the go-to guy for volunteering, said Rooke.

It can be hard to relate to homelessness, but he recalled how impactful it was for him to help a family of nine who had members from all walks of life. Everything had gone wrong and they were down-on-their-luck.

He said, “these people are going through hard times, but I see the joy in their spirit.”

The DRM was able to provide the tools they needed to reevaluate their situations, such as financial courses or mental health assistance. They raised donations to get them a new home and most people with journeys like these end up becoming volunteers themselves.

“With volunteers ranging from high-schoolers to adults, it gives a different perspective just to know that sometimes we are dealt bad cards, and that we can overcome what we put our mind to,” he said. “You're not the first to have a barrier that seems unsurmountable.”

Everyone has a purpose and Mrosko’s purpose is giving back, whether it be in the Air Force or through the spirit of volunteerism.

“Every time I volunteer I learn something new from the experiences people are going through,” said Mrosko. “I’ve found the most genuine people are volunteers at the DRM and that's part of why I keep coming back. Volunteering gives me a purpose, I like helping people, it’s just who I am.”