USO Manager of Volunteer Operations Kassia Reedy introduces the USO Volunteers of the Quarter for Fall 2019.
Alan Thompson | USO Central Florida | Stateside Region
Described as “truly having a heart for serving others,” USO volunteer Alan Thompson has given over 8,000 hours in support of service members and their families in the central Florida area. Not only does Thompson drive over 100 miles between two center locations to assist in operations, but he’s also participated in over 32 well-being programs, trains new volunteer, and is the staff’s lead volunteer with the Families of the Fallen program.
Thompson often takes the initiative to assist when needs are identified in all areas. He’s fixed a cotton candy machine motor, repaired horseshoe stakes and replaced cornhole bean bags. It’s not unlike him to stay past closing hours to accommodate service members in need or jump in and help staff handle administrative duties when asked. Truly committed to the USO mission, he has assisted staff in building strong relationships in the community which, on one occasion, resulted in an organization sponsoring accommodations for stranded service members.
“I am most impressed with his flexibility and fearless attitude to tackle anything asked of him. He takes initiative to support the mission where it’s needed the most. Thompson is unique in his selflessness and ability to adapt to the mission needs no matter what. I could not be more grateful for his collaboration and excellence that have truly helped shape the growth of the USO Central Florida,” said Amy Fee, the center operations and programs manager for USO Central Florida.
Thompson’s ability and willingness to be flexible have made him an integral member of the USO Central Florida family. His patient leadership combined with his dedication to the mission make him a natural mentor to new volunteers and a rock the staff can lean on when necessary. Thompson is truly a Force Behind the Forces.
Sr. Airman Edward Wick | Pat Tillman USO, Afghanistan| SWA Region
Always “ready and willing” is a common phrase uttered by staff at the Pat Tillman USO when describing Sr. Airman Edward Wick. In under two months Wick has volunteered over 250 hours, giving his time to support the center and activities such as the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program, the Army 10-miler and the Air Force Marathon shadow run. It’s also worth pointing out that Wick does most of his volunteering either after or before a full day of work.
Wick goes out of his way to ensure that the people he interacts with feel cared for and welcomed. In a center operations capacity, not only is he warm and welcoming, but he has also implemented a signage change reflecting patrons’ interest in video games, which has resulted in higher traffic to the USO center. Wick also goes out of his way to create that same level of warmth with the USO staff. He’s come in at 0300 to assist in decorating for a staff member’s birthday, stepped in to help a staff member transport supplies and even decorated a personalized mug for a USO staffer. These actions, combined with his strong ability to and mentor and train new volunteers, has made him vital to the success of Pat Tillman USO.
“When tasking Wick with any project large or small, inside or outside the center, you can count on him to complete said task in a professional and organized manner. When a new volunteer comes into a new center they’re often nervous and unsure, but we noticed that Wick’s calm approachable demeanor put our new volunteers at ease. We at Pat Tillman USO are lucky to have such a stand-up volunteer who is dedicated to the USO mission,” said Amanda Audet, a duty manager at Pat Tillman USO.
Wick demonstrates his dedication to the USO mission and to the people serving with him. He is a natural leader and interacts well with patrons, guests and staff. Staff say that his demeanor is the illustration of how to conduct one’s self while volunteering with the USO. He is truly the epitome of what a USO volunteer should be!
Taylor Busey | USO Iwakuni, Japan| Pacific Region
USO Iwakuni volunteer Taylor Busey is a dedicated member of the Iwakuni team. She leads the USO Operation Birthday Cake program along with supporting other operations within her USO’s area of responsibility. In almost two years that Busey has been volunteering with USO Iwakuni, she’s accrued over 460 hours, truly demonstrating her dedication to the mission.
Busey is an integral member of the Iwakuni team and is often sought out by other volunteers for her experience and advice. Other volunteers depend on her resourcefulness and coordination to successfully navigate the logistics of both Operation Birthday Cake and TGI Food nights. She encourages fellow team members and strives to recognize their efforts, even nominating several for USO Mission Awards (which she herself has won twice!). Her stellar interpersonal communication skills have made her a key point of contact for staff, volunteers, and leadership within the units on base.
“Busey embodies the true spirit of volunteerism and has become an integral part of USO Iwakuni. She continues to show ongoing initiative, leadership and dedication. She has made a measurable impact in the community as evidenced by the praise she received from families through email and social media on her work with Operation Birthday Cake,” said Jamie Birt, a USO Iwakuni center operation specialist.
Busey demonstrates what it means to be a part of a service-driven community. She’s engaged, adaptable, hardworking and a true leader. Thanks to Busey’s hard work, service members and their families feel engaged and appreciated
Air Force Reserve Master Sgt. Johnie Elsenburg | USO Kaiserslautern, Germany| Europe Region
Air Force Reserve Master Sgt. Johnie Elsenburg, a member of the Ohio Air National Guard, has devoted over 400 hours to the mission of USO Kaiserslautern while deployed to Germany. Elsenburg spends most of his time supporting the wounded, ill, and injured at the USO Warrior Center at Landstuhl and can often be found preparing home-cooked meals, regularly assisting staff with cleaning and motivating others to volunteer with him.
On one occasion, since the Warrior Center encourages its volunteers to use the kitchen facilities to prepare meals for patients and visitors, Elsenburg took the initiative to prepare a self-funded meal of Yakisoba. He chose to prepare this meal, a favorite in military dining facilities, understanding how it would make service members feel. He originally thought there would be leftovers, but it was completely consumed – down to the last noodle – and widely lauded by patrons as an excellent dish. However, Elsenburg’s meal event was a success for the most important reason: it connected the patients and patrons to home, country and each other.
“Put simply, Elsenburg is a representative of the type of volunteer the USO needs in its centers. He selflessly serves his country as a guardsman and he serves the USO and its patrons as a volunteer. He is passionate about his service to country and about his service as a volunteer to the USO. By relating his positive experiences as a USO volunteer, Elsenburg has encouraged others to become volunteers themselves,” said Anne Warnock, a USO Kaiserslautern volunteer coordinator.
Patrons and staff alike praise Elsenburg for his service both to his country and to their center. The USO is thankful he has chosen to spend some of his downtime during his deployment to selflessly take care of those around him, illustrating true leadership. USO Kaiserslautern is proud to have such a fantastic volunteer on their team!
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