Volunteers are needed every day in communities around the world, but there are few who go above and beyond to change the lives of others and help make a difference.
At Luke Air Force Base, the efforts of volunteers are not overlooked. As part of 2012 National Volunteer Week, a recognition ceremony was held April 12 at Club Five Six to recognize the many volunteers across the wing who have donated their time to good causes over the past year.
â€œWe recognize volunteers regardless of whether they volunteer on or off base,â€ said Susan Wilinski, 56th Force Support Squadron community readiness specialist. â€œTheyâ€™re making a significant impact in their communities throughout the year. They volunteer without expectation of awards or acknowledgment. They are working toward improving the quality of life for their community and other families.â€
More than 500 certificates were printed to recognize Luke Thunderbolts who have volunteered over the past year. Of those, approximately 70 volunteers were nominated for an award, and the five winners were announced during the ceremony. A board of three senior NCOs and two officers chose the winners based on the number of hours volunteered, and where and what type of volunteer work was done between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011.
Volunteers were nominated in five categories: youth, nonmilitary, retired military, active-duty military, and the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Volunteer Excellence Award. To be eligible for the excellence award, the supervisor or volunteer agency must nominate the volunteer. This award acknowledges sustained and direct contributions that are significant in character, produce tangible results and reflect favorably on the Air Force.
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Sandra Harris was presented with the volunteer excellence award for her many contributions to the Luke AFB chapel. Over the past year, she donated more than 1,300 hours of time, talent and resources to various programs. From feeding Airmen on the flightline and in the dorms, to briefing first term Airmen about protestant services, Harris has a positive effect on people across the base.
â€œThis is the busiest Iâ€™ve ever been,â€ she said. â€œEverything we do, we give God the glory.â€
Motivation for volunteering can come from many different places. Some people volunteer to explore a potential career, fulfill a personal interest, satisfy a need for belonging, or see it as an opportunity to â€œpay it back.â€ For Airman 1st Class Brittany Boring, this yearâ€™s winner of the military volunteer of the year award, volunteering was encouraged by her parents, who said helping people is one of the most rewarding things in life.
â€œWhat motivates me to volunteer is that no matter how small or big the gesture, I am able to touch an individualâ€™s life,â€ Boring said. â€œNo amount of money in my bank account could ever compare to the feeling I get when I put smiles on peopleâ€™s faces or make their days better.â€
At each volunteering event, Boring learned something about herself and the participants she was helping.
â€œIf I had to pick a favorite event, it would be the Mississippi Special Olympics because it was a life-changing experience,â€ she said. â€œMy participant stepped up to the challenge and ran a 50-meter dash, even though she had only trained for walking events. She placed second and I will never forget the pride she wore on her face as she stepped onto the podium. Her determination inspires me, and I will never forget her.â€
Wilinski hopes people who see their fellow Thunderbolts donating their time and efforts will be driven to make the same decision to volunteer or at least recognize their coworkers.
â€œI hope the winners motivate you to want to make your own mark on peopleâ€™s lives,â€ she said. â€œThis is an annual award, so itâ€™s important for supervisors or individuals to keep record of volunteer hours and events, so that those individuals can be submitted for next yearâ€™s ceremony.â€
Youth: Jada Willingham
Nonmilitary: Sherrie Pospisil
Military retiree: Jerold Haupt
Military: Airman 1st Class Brittany Boring
Volunteer Excellence Award: Retired Chief Master Sgt. Sandra Harris