NAS Whiting Field MWR finalist for National Gold Medal Award

Special to Gannett
MWR character breakfast drive thru.

MILTON – The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), has announced Naval Air Station Whiting Field’s Morale Welfare and Recreation department as a finalist for the 2021 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.

Founded in 1965, the National Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the United States that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Applications are separated into six classes, with five classes based on population and one class for armed forces.

“Each finalist is congratulated for this prestigious award," said AAPRA Executive Director Jane H. Adams. "We know local communities, state park systems, and military installations worldwide met the challenge of being responsive to the changing demands of delivering services during the COVID 19 pandemic.

"Park visitors and program participants have come to rely upon their service provider for physical, mental, and emotional support during this pandemic," she added. "The Academy congratulates each Finalist for their management excellence during this unprecedented time.”

NAS Whiting Field MWR is a finalist in the Armed Forces Parks and Recreation category. MWR serves military members and their families at Whiting Field with recreational, physical fitness and family activities such as campouts, movie nights, library activities, and many other events geared toward enhancing a family community and morale among Sailors.

“This past year brought on many new challenges to the services and programs we provide to our Sailors and their families,” said Tom Kubalewski, MWR director at NAS Whiting Field. “The Whiting Field team persevered, however, and found a way to support our community with outstanding events, facilities and services, whether they were conducted in smaller groups or in a virtual environment.

"In addition, the team was able to reset, reopen and reengage when the opportunity to expand services was authorized," he added. "I couldn’t be more proud of the NAS Whiting Field MWR gold award team!”

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff members and elected officials. NAS Whiting Field MWR joins three other finalists in their class that will compete for the Grand Plaque, which will be awarded in September.

“Our NAS Whiting Field MWR team is second-to-none,” said Capt. Paul Flores, commanding officer of NAS Whiting Field. “The men and women who serve at MWR help our sailors and families with a multitude of fun and healthy activities and events throughout the year. I’m especially pleased with their work during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep our team healthy and engaged. We’re proud of their accomplishments and hope to see them win the Grand Plaque in September."

For more information on the National Gold Medal Award Program, visit www.aapra.org.