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NEWS | Jan. 30, 2023

Depot shines spotlight on unique employee hobbies

By Mr. Nicolo Manzo and Ms. Danielle E. Weinschenk

For anyone who steps foot inside Tobyhanna Army Depot’s (TYAD’s) gates, or is familiar with the work done here, it is easy to see that Team Tobyhanna’s passion for supporting our Nation’s warfighters is the driving force of the depot. What may not be as apparent is the vast array of hobbies our workforce is passionate about in their free time. These various interests further bolster the ideal of a workforce diverse in talents, skills, and passions.

In observance of National Hobby Month, get to know members of Team Tobyhanna who have interesting hobbies.

Supply Technician Johnathan Ives and his fellow team members meticulously ensure the proper functioning and application of tactical radio to keep our Nation’s warfighters safe. In his free time, Ives enjoys a hobby which also requires meticulous attention to detail – miniature painting.

He describes miniature painting, along with blacksmithing, as a pandemic passion.

“The miniature painting I’ve always been really curious about. I didn’t really start getting into it until about roughly around the pandemic… when you (had) more time at home,” said Ives.

The figures and game board pictured can be used to play battle games like Marvel Crisis Protocol, but Ives said he is more into the painting/assembling side of the hobby rather than the gameplay. The figures all come attached to a plastic sprue. Ives then assembles the figures and paints them to parade standard, meaning he doesn’t stop at just putting a few colors on the figures, but instead also adds highlighting, weathering, and layering to the pieces he paints.

“The weathering – special effects, if you will – are the most fun on the model because I feel like it brings the model to life and tells a story,” said Ives. “I like to try to tell a story of what the characters do or where they’re at.”

In addition to all the figures he’s painted, Ives is particularly proud of his game board. Several players just roll out a mat to play, but Ives created his game board, which allowed him to put his own creative spin on it by adding things like Stephen King references.

Ives said the work/life balance at TYAD allows him to pursue his passion and makes him better served to support TYAD’s mission.

“I feel like a lot of your creativity, what you do outside of work, can really reflect on what you do here at work. I feel like I come into work every day, and I have a purpose to help the warfighter – someone who is helping us at the same time.”

Management Assistant Casey Stevens’ hobby is a family affair. The entire Stevens clan – including Stevens, her twin sons, husband, siblings, parents (including father, Bill, a depot retiree), cousins, and nieces – enjoys traveling together to Walt Disney World (WDW) in Florida.

The family’s first trip took place when Stevens and her two siblings were children, after many years of enjoying all things Disney right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

“We took many trips to Montage Video to rent films like The Parent Trap and Pollyanna, so getting to finally visit this magical place felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Stevens explained, adding that the vacation was “classic Griswold, complete with an excruciatingly long road trip.”

The family made a return trip to WDW when Stevens’ niece and nephew were born, taking in all that a Disney holiday event had to offer. After that, the entire family was hooked – especially Casey.

“I was taken by the feeling you have when you walk onto the property. It’s just a sense of happiness, especially in the Magic Kingdom. I’ve been to Disney five times in the past ten years, and I even honeymooned there!”

According to Stevens, the Disney brand has permeated other parts of her life as well.

“We have an all-Disney Christmas tree that goes up in our basement, the kids’ birthdays are Disney-themed, we love going to Disney on Ice, and each year, my twins dress up as Disney characters for Halloween,” noting that she often makes their costumes herself – such as last year’s homemade Rocket and Groot costumes depicting characters from Guardians of the Galaxy. The family also has a weekly movie night where they enjoy Disney films together.

Stevens says the collective hobby is all about family bonding across generations.

“Our trips are a great opportunity for us all to spend time together. I am so thankful my children can make these memories with my parents and their cousins – and I get to as well!”

Christopher D’Amico from the Production Engineering Directorate has a unique hobby inspired by his occupation: the cybersecurity specialist collects Tobyhanna Army Depot memorabilia.

He says the hobby was inspired by a lifelong interest in local history.

“I grew up in Gouldsboro and drove by the depot along Tobyhanna Road frequently. I always wondered what went on behind the gates, and, when I joined Team Tobyhanna in 2010, I became even more interested how our organization and mission has evolved over 100-plus years.”

Since then, D’Amico has amassed an impressive collection of depot relics, dating back to the earliest days of the Army’s presence in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The assortment includes hundreds of photos depicting construction of the buildings now part of Tobyhanna Army Depot; handwritten estimates for excavation of depot property; dozens of challenge coins; pins; postcards; patches; and a swath of newspaper clippings spanning decades.

The collection has become popular across the depot and continues to grow, according to D’Amico.

“I source a lot of items from eBay. You would be surprised how many Tobyhanna related items are out there,” he said. “Generous co-workers have also donated items since they know I enjoy them,” adding that he’s still searching for a special something to round out the collection.

“Because I also collect Zippo lighters, my holy grail item would be a Tobyhanna-branded Zippo – merging the two things I enjoy collecting.”

Perhaps the most treasured item among D’Amico’s collection is a newspaper clipping outlining how a crane operator crushed a car during the early days of depot construction, only to find out later it was the crane operator’s own car.

“I just appreciate the humor in it,” he said.

TYAD's long-range strategic plan, TOBY2035, strives to position Tobyhanna for success in the coming years as the Department of Defense's premier worldwide C5ISR readiness provider. The plan has four focus areas: C5ISR Readiness, Invest In Our People, Shape the Future, and Strategic Communications.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 3,100 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.