The new Liberty Center coordinator at Naval Support Facility Indian Head hasn’t let power outages and winter weather stop her from creating some exciting events for Marines and Sailors assigned to the base. On the job for less than two weeks, Alice Gilliland is already planning a Super Bowl Party for Feb. 2, a trip to Arundel Mills on Feb. 5, a video game contest Feb. 13, a poker and wing night on Feb. 19 and a ski trip on Feb. 22.
The daughter and granddaughter of Navy officers, Gilliland’s experience as a military child helped underscore both the challenges of military life and the importance of rest and recreation for service members. The Annapolis native began working at Naval Support Activity Annapolis while attending Towson University; after graduation, Gilliland returned as a recreation aid and a volunteer at the U.S. Naval Academy’s Nimitz Library.
The latter position gave Gilliland, an enthusiastic reader and history buff, a front-row seat to some very unique historical documents. Neither the academy records of a midshipman who later became a president, nor the autopsy records of John Paul Jones were the most interesting things she encountered, however. “I was going through an oversize collection and in one drawer, I saw framed letters,” she said. “One was from Alexander Hamilton and the next one from George Washington. I wasn’t sure they were real or if anyone knew they were back there. When I told [the library staff], they had no idea. It was really cool.”
While NSF Indian Head is not quite so historic, Gilliland said her experiences on base have been positive and she looks forward to learning more about the Marines and Sailors assigned to the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, her largest group of customers.
“Everyone seems really nice,” she said. “I’m really excited to learn more about what the Marines and Sailors are looking forward to doing. These guys seem very excited to try new things and I’m excited to be able to take them on different trips, not just to go places, but to gain an experience or new skills. I want to grow the sense of community at the Liberty Center here.”
Gilliland plans to use her familiarity with the region to help guide new Liberty Center excursions. “I’m familiar with what Washington and Baltimore have to offer and I’m looking forward to showing the Marines and Sailors,” she said.
Gilliland’s goal is to encourage young service members to try new things, while also offering them a welcoming, familiar refuge. “Even though the military has a support system, it can be challenging to be away from your family,” she said. “With the Liberty Center, you want it to be a home away from home, where [service members] can relax in a stress-free environment, watch a movie, play a video game and maybe forget about their tough job for a little while.”
Though Gilliland is still learning her new base and new customers, working at the Liberty Center and with other likeminded Morale, Welfare and Recreation employees has already proven rewarding. “Recreation is always a fun area to work,” said Gilliland. “Recreation is enjoyment and we’re all about bringing joy to others. Whoever we’re working for, it’s about fun.”
For more information about upcoming events at the NSF Indian Head Liberty Center, call 301-744-4524.