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Princess for the day cultivates connectedness

Staff Sgt. Erica Darcy, 614th Air Operation Center intelligence analyst, volunteers as a princess actor during a book reading at a local library June 24, 2019, in Vandenberg Village, Calif.

Staff Sgt. Erica Darcy, 614th Air Operation Center intelligence analyst, volunteers as a princess actor during a book reading at a local library June 24, 2019, in Vandenberg Village, Calif. Darcy volunteers for events in the local community and on base to support charity and community outreach events. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aubree Milks)

Staff Sgt. Erica Darcy, 614th Air Operation Center intelligence analyst, volunteers during a book reading at a local library June 24, 2019, in Vandenberg Village, Calif.

Staff Sgt. Erica Darcy, 614th Air Operation Center intelligence analyst, volunteers during a book reading at a local library June 24, 2019, in Vandenberg Village, Calif. Darcy volunteers at various charity events on base and in the local community by dressing up as a princess and dancing, singing and reading to children in the community of all ages. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aubree Milks)

Staff Sgt. Erica Darcy, 614th Air Operation Center intelligence analyst, welcomes a child during a children’s book reading at a local library June 24, 2019, in Vandenberg Village, Calif.

Staff Sgt. Erica Darcy, 614th Air Operation Center intelligence analyst, welcomes a child during a children’s book reading at a local library June 24, 2019, in Vandenberg Village, Calif. Darcy dresses as a princess during volunteer events in the local community to support events that raise awareness within the community. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aubree Milks)

Staff Sgt. Erica Darcy, 614th Air Operation Center intelligence analyst, meets with children during a children’s book reading at a local library June 24, 2019, in Vandenberg Village, Calif.

Staff Sgt. Erica Darcy, 614th Air Operation Center intelligence analyst, meets with children during a children’s book reading at a local library June 24, 2019, in Vandenberg Village, Calif. Darcy volunteers as a princess to foster connectedness by bring local families together during community events. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aubree Milks)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

When Staff Sgt. Erica Darcy, 614th Air Operation Center intelligence analyst, takes off her uniform for the day, she doesn’t just put on civilian clothes, she puts on a costume and transforms into someone new. For Darcy, it’s more than just dressing up in a costume, it’s a way for her to give back to her community.

Darcy volunteers at various charity events on base and in the local community by dressing up as a princess and dancing, singing and reading to children in the community of all ages. Darcy seeks out events that benefit the local community and dresses up as a way to foster connectedness and make a difference in children’s lives.

“I volunteer so much because I know there are children out there who haven’t met these characters, and it would be like a dream to them,” Darcy said. “I volunteer as a princess to give these children a chance to experience a bit of magic.”

As a mother of three, volunteering has also strengthened her family relationships. During her downtime with her children, Darcy watches the movies that showcase these characters to establish a better understanding for when she dresses up and volunteers. This not only allows her to connect more with her children, but it is also a way for her to be more in character while volunteering in the costumes.

“Even though this takes time away from my family, I feel like I can relate to my daughters better now,” she said. “It has bridged the age gap between me and my kids in a lot of ways, and it strikes up that inner child within me.”

While volunteering is a way for her to engage with the community, Darcy hopes she is setting an example for her three daughters as a hard working mom who also gives back to her community.

“This hobby has made me a happier person,” Darcy said. “I am passionate about what I do and going to events as a princess directly benefits my desire to make people happy, especially children.”