Skils’kin Grounds Crew Contributes to Making FE Warren AFB a Tree City

Skils’kin was invited to attend the 2019 FE Warren Air Force Base Arbor Day Celebration. FE Warren 90th Missile Wing Commander Col. Bonetti read and signed the Arbor Day proclamation. This event added another year FE Warren AFB as being a Tree City USA member, 31 years total.


To be awarded Tree City USA status the base must meet 4 core standards. Skils’kin and its employees aid in meeting these standards.
• Standard 1: A Tree Board or Department.
• Standard 2: A Tree Care Ordinance.
• Standard 3: A Community Forestry Program With an Annual Budget of at Least $2 Per Capita.
• Standard 4: An Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation.


Skils’kin assists in meeting standard 3 on an annual basis. Tree maintenance and removals are included in the base contract and in IDIQ jobs. FE Warren Grounds is responsible for the care of all trees on the 555 acres we maintain.


The 2019 Arbor Celebration included an opening from Col. Bonetti, the reading and signing of the FE Warren Arbor Day proclamation by Col. Bonetti, and a ceremonial tree planting. During the opening remarks, Col. Bonetti noted how much the base vegetation has changed since it was a cavalry outpost. He noted some specific trees that were planted back in the early 1800s some of which are still standing today and are maintained by Skils’kin.



The Main Method for Instruction

At Skils’kin we prioritize our education and safety programs to create opportunities for all employees to feel comfortable, confident, and safe in their work environments. Every year Skils’kin departments are responsible for organizing and guiding monthly safety trainings that are relevant to the department activity. Ordinarily, these trainings are led by an instructor with a PowerPoint and a written test to prove competency. While these training sessions are effective and allow us to track and update our employees training it is not always the best learning environment for all of our employees. As Skils’kin considers all of the different departmental functions we ask our project managers to take ownership of their training schedule to make sure it is relevant training and teachable. Amanda Main is the Assistant Custodial Manager at the Fairchild Air Force Base who recently took her team through Ergonomics training.

In an effort to engage her team as deeply as possible Amanda Main decided to experiment with the implementation of her training. After taking in feedback from previous training sessions Amanda knew team members didn’t feel engaged through just listening, so she gave them the opportunity to do. Amanda created a role-playing situation for the training to take place in. The simulation gave participants the chance to learn by doing. Printed photos and labels transformed the training area into a van and a bathroom. Amanda asked the participants to go about tasks they would perform in their daily jobs, but the remaining team members were an audience that would “stop” the role-playing when they saw a violation of the ergonomics training. This experience engaged the whole group, allowing everyone to see and understand the training in a real-life situation. Through the excitement of the new training style, a high number of employees actively participated in the training and even went as far as to integrate more training outside of ergonomics during the simulation. From personal protective equipment to driving safety the simulated experience had the team engaged and everyone was having fun participating.

Innovation is a value at Skils’kin and applying new methods of learning allows us to accommodate everyone’s best learning style. Creating live-action situations to show competency and create engagement is a simple change that impacted our employees. We always encourage our managers to feel empowered and take ownership of what they think will make their department more effective. Through Amanda Main’s innovation, the distribution of this new training technique is underway. Employees and managers will now have more options with training to customize and teach topics in whatever method works best.

Courageous Kids Climbing Visits Spokane

“Climbing is about overcoming challenges and gaining new perspectives. Climbing has taught me that I am stronger and more capable than I think. It helps me put “real life” challenges into perspective. The lesson isn’t about getting to the top; it’s about the struggles and successes along the way. A rock wall, a rope, and a climbing partner are excellent teachers in confronting fears, overcoming perceived limitations, and practicing the art of teamwork. None of us get through lifealone, just like no one climbs alone.”-Megan Curran

Megan Curran, Director of AbilityOne Food Service Operations is a passionate person and fortunately, she has no hesitation to share her passions with others. Megan began rock climbing in 2014 and has worked with Courageous Kids Climbing since 2015. Jeff Riechmann, along with Larry Morton, founded Courageous Kids Climbing 14 years ago. Now it is an incorporated non-profit since April of this year. Jeff and Megan were two of several volunteers at Courageous Kids Climbing at the YMCA in Spokane Valley on, Saturday, September 14th in the early afternoon.

The climbing wall awaits as miscellaneous equipment lay nearby. Jeff explains, “I can get anyone up there as long as the are 3 months to 103 years old and weigh less than 300 pounds. Then he continued, “If there are problems, I have around $10,000 in equipment to help me.”

Bradyn and Kellan are a couple of the courageous kids here to climb. Kellan first tried the arc harness, a seated platform that is on ropes. He ascended past the halfway mark. Then when he joined us on the ground; he was ready to go back up, but with just the harness for aid. He made use of any grip he could and he ascended more than his previous climb. As he reached for each hold not only was determination in his eyes, so was happiness. His strength and determination was focused on the ascent.

Climber 2, Bradyn is visually impaired but also an unstoppable daredevil. He ascended multiple times and did every route except the most difficult one. His mother, Lizzy, said that he first climbed when he was 4 and now he is almost 10, Bradyn is devoted to this sport and leads a very active lifestyle.

He goes to every Courageous Kids Climbing event and Lizzy said that they are looking for someone to train him with outdoor climbing. He strives to be unhindered, free and in control. He also skis, hikes, snow shoes and rides a bike. (He is least fond of snow shoeing). He is ready for any obstacle.

Without people like Megan and Jeff many individuals might not even have a chance to best their limitations. This is good free fun that builds independence and fulfillment. Giving individuals with disabilities the opportunity to prove themselves. Megan stated, ”It’s inspiring to watch adaptive climbers reach new heights. Whether ascending in an Arc Harness or by pulling up their own bodyweight, a climber encounters new sights, textures, and sensations that shake up their everyday perception of the world. Nearly everyone can benefit from this style
of learning.”

Jeff adds, “Courageous Kids Climbing provides me the opportunity to share my love for climbing with those who may not ordinarily have the opportunity to experience climbing. This has proved to be a very rewarding experience. To see a child exceed the expectations of their parents is one of many rewards.”

The events in Spokane take place every April and September. If you would like more information, like other locations, please check Courageous Kids Climbing on Faceboook. Thank you Megan and Jeff for bringing this event to Spokane and allowing Skils’kin to be part of it.

Megan Curran and Jeffrey Riechmann: another day with Courageous Kids Climbing.

Returning to Pay it Forward

Often in life things work out in a way that allows us to return to the good parts of our lives. Whether it’s through reflecting on nostalgic moments, a coincidence that reminds us of the past, or something deep inside that remembers and draws us back. It is what we come to know to be a part of us, it’s what we are good at, and often, it is what we believe is right. Aaron Tomcho is a Skils’kin employee who has come, and gone and returned for these reasons. Over a decade, Aaron found himself employed at Skils’kin again.
In 2006, Aaron began receiving DVR services from Skils’kin’s Employment Department. As a young man, Aaron was working to establish himself as a member of Spokane’s workforce. Through the services he was receiving, he completed his GED while developing his interviewing skills and confidence in job searching. Aaron soon gained employment working on the Fairchild Air Force Base as a Grounds Laborer. Throughout the year, and to the end of the summer of 2007, Aaron continued to receive DVR services; as Aaron became independent, his job coach realized he didn’t need as much support anymore. By this point, Aaron decided he no longer needed services.
In 2008, Aaron went on to start his independent job search, feeling prepared and confident after his supported services and first work experiences at the Fairchild Air Force Base. His DVR experience taught him that he simply needed the confidence and practice to put himself out there. Aaron knew he was skilled and motivated, but he felt so inhibited by his anxiety that he convinced himself he couldn’t do it on his own. After a year of support, he was able to present himself professionally as a strong candidate during interviews. In his newfound independence, Aaron gained employment at Sacred Heart Hospital as a Lab Assistant. In this position, Aaron continued to develop his technical skills while working towards his long-term goals. As a lab assistant, Aaron worked in a fast-paced environment handling samples and processing data for the hospital. Over the next four years, Aaron took on more responsibilities and continued to build up his confidence.
With a goal of going back to school, Aaron continued to develop his career plan. In 2016, he began attending Spokane Falls Community College, working towards his associate degree in information technology. Although Aaron was successful in school, he soon encountered issues affording classes. In order to complete his degree, he needed to reevaluate his timeline as a student and take on a part-time job. Utilizing his job searching skills from so many years ago, Aaron still had the skills and confidence of a professional in the job market. During this job search, he came across a Skils’kin job post and he remembered his experiences from a decade ago. Aaron said he “remembered Skils’kin was a great place to work,” and applied for a position as Food Service Worker on the Fairchild Air Force Base. Aaron was able to easily land the job through his appreciation for and previous investment in the mission. He knew Skils’kin for “being compassionate to the people they serve,” and he wanted to join the mission to back in to pay back some of the support he received. Aaron is now working at the Fairchild Air Force Base Warrior Dining Hall as a Food Service Worker and is planning on starting classes in the fall semester to pursue his goals in cybersecurity. We wish you the best of luck on your journey, Aaron.

garden vegetables

Setting the Foundation

Transitions in Spokane is a non-profit that works to end poverty and homelessness for women and children in Spokane. Transitions operate six different programs that provide services and support for their members. The New Leaf Bakery and Café is one of their programs that provides job training through hands-on training in a commercial kitchen. Recently, the New Leaf program had been given a grant for a community garden. A community garden project is exactly what New Leaf wants to support in their community, but there are large landscaping and labor requirements associated with a garden to get it up and running.
Ian Graves, a Skils’kin HR Business Partner, volunteers his time and experience on the Transitions HR Advisory Board and heard about the community garden grant as it came in. Quickly, Ian connected New Leaf with Jon Booze, Skils’kin’s Grounds Project Manager at Fairchild Air Force Base. Once Jon heard from New Leaf he was able to get a scope of the project and volunteered his time to help. Jon helped get the garden started by relocating and distributing soil throughout the community garden, building a level foundation for the garden. Jon was happy to help and let New Leaf know he was an open resource to the ongoing projects surround the project.
Connections build a stronger community, and Skils’kin has a knack for getting involved and going above and beyond.

Provide, a Reason

Stories of success at Skils’kin come in many different forms. Ordinarily, it is a landmark moment, or a redeeming story arch to show growth. In a recent submission, we were told of an employee who did have a radical story, an extreme commitment to her work, and her family. The first line of the submission was “Rose is our assistant project manager at Fairchild Air Force Base Dining. She is a true unsung Skils’kin hero,” and I found this to be true.
It’s hard to imagine yourself in someone else’s position. But I know, at the very least, I would find it nearly impossible to work two full-time jobs unless there was no choice in the matter, even then I doubt my ability to do my best at both positions. I have a great job and work for a company that I hold in high regard. Sometimes, my job allows me to meet wonderful people that, like me, also work for Skils’kin.
The Marketing Department reviews the story submissions and we tease out the potential in all of them, but we had no idea how great this would be. Rose Stultz, Assistant Project Manager for Skils’kin at Fairchild Air Force Base, showed up slightly before my shift began to have her photo taken. Today my job was to interview her for this article.
Smiling, she approached my cubicle and shook my hand while she expressed gratitude for the interview. Her contagious smile hit me and my smile stayed throughout the interview. Rose was so engaging and eager to share; she was glad to be here. Some people have that positive energy that just rubs off on you. Rose is one of these people.
The first question I asked was about her history with Skils’kin and where she was from. She responded, “When Skils’kin took over operations in 2010, I was working with the previous company that held the contract and I kept my position with Skils’kin. I came from the Philippines in March of 2001. I was widowed and came to the states through a petition for an engagement Visa filed by my fiancé who was in the United States Air Force.” She continued, “I took English classes in the Philippines and came here with about a 7th-grade level education in English. I did not finish all the English classes offered by my high school so I say I grew up here.” Punctuating our conversation with laughter, she then explained she felt like she had grown up here because this is where she really learned English, and all the practical skills involving her work, through experience.
I followed up her answer with curiosity and asked about her immediate family. She explained to me, “In 2009, I brought my kids here. Currently, my son serves in the Marines and my daughter is in the Air National Guard and going to school full-time to get her degree as a Registered Nurse.” She also informed me both children graduated from Medical Lake High School in Washington. I could tell her family played a pivotal role in her decisions.
I asked, “What drives you to work so hard?” She then explained, “I work two jobs, sixteen hours a day, Monday through Friday, and I sometimes help during the weekends when I am needed. I help, or helped, my six brothers in the Philippines, three have passed.” She pauses and pulls her phone from a pocket, “There are two seasons in the Philippines, typhoon (rain) and summer, my brother’s roof leaked badly so I helped him get a new roof over his head.” She held up the phone, I looked at the photo, and she literally put a roof over his head. It was a picture of a small living area, all the wood that was part of this area was aged and worn, except for the roof. She continued, “I support about 5 families back home too, including nephews and nieces.” She proudly continues showing me family photos. “My sister-in-law cared for my children when I moved here until they arrived in the United States, so now I help her get her children through school.” Then she shared their pictures. Even I can feel the love that transcends across an ocean.
Yet, I’m still grasping the thought of two fulltime jobs, so I ask, “Two full-time jobs can be too much for some people. How do you handle so much work and continue to do both jobs so well?” Her answer came fast with certainty, “I grew up with nothing and experienced a lot, I do not want to go back. So I provide and help my family to get through school. I need to work to ensure the future for them.”
Rose described a typical day saying every day is different, but she clocks in at 5 AM and will not leave the base until around 9 PM, working for Skils’kin the first part of the day and Aramark the second half. I asked why the devotion to Fairchild Air Force Base and her long-term employment and she said, “I decided to stay here. I like it here. I have land and a place. My kids go to school here.” She said she liked having two jobs at one location because of how easy it was to just clock out and clock right back in, usually breaking for lunch.
I am amazed at Rose’s diligence and dedication to work, which pushed me to explore further. I asked the name of the campaign, “Why do you work?” She answered, without hesitation, “To provide for myself and my family. I want to keep what I have and provide for my future.” But that wasn’t all, she continued “For me, it was the opportunity. Back home we don’t have any opportunity like here. Some who graduate from college from the Philippines will then go on to different countries to work.”
Rose explained that the more you knew, the more valuable of an employee you are. She said she is very eager to learn and always wants to know more. She states, “I know everyone and everything about my positions. I am currently learning Paycom. I wash dishes, do cleaning, and deal with orders and answering questions about the food system.” Before Aimee Hubbard filled the Dining Services Project Manager position, Rose performed additional responsibilities during the onboarding process.
Rose has wonderful interpersonal communication skills and has a lasting impression on people. Aimee has not worked at Skils’kin for very long, but she had this to say of Rose, “Rose is a star. I am so thrilled that she is being featured and grateful to all that recommended her. Rose is the heart of our operations.” Rose reciprocates her appraisal from co-workers.
I ended the interview by asking how she felt about her work environment, she declared, “I have a supportive boss, other employees sing and dance with me, I help the new hires as much as I can. My co-workers are very helpful and have a great attitude. I always tell them ‘life is beautiful’ no matter what, especially if they are down or need encouragement.”
Passion has the ability to manifest itself in the form of work. In many cases purpose is found through mission and that can drive us to invest in work. In Rose’s case, her mission is to provide, this might be through help or encouragement or through direct assistance to her family. Rose brings warmth to everyone she works with at Fairchild Air Force Base. She shares her joy and expertise with us. She shares and provides without boundaries. Rose is not just an unsung hero of Skils’kin, she is a hero in my eyes.
– Mike Ellsworth, Marketing Assistant
Note from Rose: “I forgot to tell you about my hero, the person who helped me to get where I am right now is my husband Dave Stultz. He was the person that gave me support and keeps supporting me with all of my success. He is my mentor. He is my hero.”

Skyler Oberst: The Journey of Work

I’m not here to tell you that once you make it to a certain point all things are wonderful. This is not that generic testimonial where I proudly say that “I’ve now arrived at being successful and you can be too!” In fact, I’m here to tell you something different…
I’d like you to consider what it means to be successful. It’s funny how when people reflect on the skills that brought them success, they tend to skip over the difficult and unpleasant realization that it’s hard work and can leave you scarred. Everyone will mention their first job of mowing lawns or working in a fast food restaurant but no one talks about how painful sunburns can be or how the hot grease from a fry machine can leave a pretty gnarly scar you if you’re not careful (believe me– it hurts!). Seldom do people want to hear these things because they’re more interested in the destination, thinking that they can make it there someday if they just had the right road map.
For me being successful is not a destination, but describes a way of moving through the world and interacting with people. That’s why work is so important. It’s a way of seeing every opportunity as a chance to grow into a better person. Successful people are the ones that are willing to put in the work to do the difficult and unpleasant things. Successful people do these things willingly because the work needs to be done and they see that discipline and fortitude are skills speak not only to their work but to their integrity. This type of tough work prepares you for life and when things don’t go the way they should. It’s good practice. Washing dishes or mopping floors have been some of the most rewarding experiences where I learned about the value of feeling like you accomplished something and the satisfaction of earning your keep. These lessons I learned I still apply whether in the boardroom or at home.
You can see this in the way strong leaders treat others, in the way they conduct themselves. And if you ask them… They may have some great lessons about the scars they picked up along the way. So why do I work? I work for the opportunity to enjoy the journey, learn the difficult lessons and savor each and every experience.

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