Volunteer of the Year – Third Quarter Nominees

To recognize the outstanding contributions of our volunteers, USO centers from our four operating regions—Stateside, Europe, Southwest Asia, and the Pacific—nominate a volunteer for “Volunteer of the Quarter” four times a year. This individual has gone above and beyond in supporting our troops and demonstrating their commitment to the USO mission. From this group of outstanding volunteers a “Volunteer of the Year” is then selected for each region, and, from these nominees comes the USO Volunteer of the Year is selected and honored at our annual gala.

Here are the 2nd Quarter Volunteer Nominees!

Soraya Franklin – Europe Region USO Volunteer of the Quarter

Raised in a military family, Soraya Franklin knows what it means for a service member to be on the move. And she understands the needs of troops and their families. “We need to ensure this is a five-star facility,” is Sonaya’s constant mantra about USO Vicenza. Her standards are high, and she leads by example rather than just words. Along with working three jobs and volunteering with the Vicenza Community Club and Vicenza’s City Library, she still dedicates at least two hours a day to USO Vicenza.

During a six-week period that the USO Vicenza was closed for renovations, Sonaya volunteered more than 70 hours, working hard to get the USO reopened for business.  Although the renovation of USO Vicenza was unexpected, Sonaya never missed a beat. She seized the opportunity and embraced the challenge of improving the center so that it would be ready to serve its community.  Her honor and loyalty are sincerely appreciated and we are happy to name her Europe’s Volunteer of the Quarter.

Petty Officer First Class Jeffery Reed – United States Region USO Volunteer of the Quarter

When Petty Officer First Class Jeffery Reed could no longer fulfill his daily obligations to the military, he became a USO volunteer. Since August 2009, PO1 Reed has been the lead volunteer for the USO Gulf Coast’s Navy Construction Battalion Center (NCNB) in Gulfport, MS.

Demonstrating the same drive and dedication he has always given to his more than 20 years of military service, PO1 Reed took charge in helping the center relocate.  His efforts saved USO Gulf Coast large amounts of money on consulting fees.

Reed’s positive leadership and mentoring are great examples to his fellow volunteers.  Under his volunteer leadership, the volunteer turnover rate for the USO lounge on NCBC is the lowest it has ever been.  He is a positive example of service for USO staff and volunteers alike. We applaud PO1 Reed on being Volunteer of the Quarter!

Vanessa Engelhardt – Southwest Asia Region USO Volunteer of the Quarter

Sailors and Marines visiting USO Dubai are always happy to meet Vanessa Engelhardt, a dedicated center volunteer. Born in Australia and raised in Germany, Vanessa uses her background to break the ice with center visitors, making them feel comfortable and at home.

USO Dubai is unique because it isn’t open daily. However, when a U.S. Naval ship pulls into port, up to 1,000 sailors and Marines can descend on the center in short order. During these times, Vanessa usually volunteers every day for regular seven-hour shifts.  Center visitors enjoy the baked goods that Vanessa has waiting for them when a ship comes into port. For a service member who has been out to sea for weeks, or even months, a fresh cookie or brownie made with lots of TLC can mean so much!  She loves to help out in any way possible and we congratulate her on being Southwest Asia’s Volunteer of the Quarter!

Master Sergeant Shane Price – Pacific Region USO Volunteer of the Quarter

Master Sergeant Shane Price knows a thing or two about big projects. As a flight chief at Osan Air Base, not only does he keep his entire squadron operating smoothly, but he has recruited fellow airmen to volunteer more than 1,500 hours during special events like Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band Concert, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Holiday Show, and most recently the Sesame Street/USO Experience.

MSgt. Price was instrumental in the planning and initial implementation of the Virtues Outreach Program in Songtan, South Korea. This program promotes stronger ties between the U.S. military and local Korean community through English language instruction. He also ensures volunteer staffing for every day tasks, and his efforts greatly contribute to USO Osan consistently having the highest number of volunteer in Korea. Price’s volunteer contributions are extensive, and his dedication to the USO and commitment to the Korean—American partnership is an inspiration to all he meets. Congrats on being USO Pacific’s Volunteer of the Quarter!

Volunteer of the Year – Second Quarter Nominees

To recognize the outstanding contributions of our volunteers, USO centers from our four operating regions—Stateside, Europe, Southwest Asia, and the Pacific—nominate a volunteer for “Volunteer of the Quarter” four times a year.  This individual has gone above and beyond in supporting our troops and demonstrating their commitment to the USO mission. From this group of outstanding volunteers a “Volunteer of the Year” is then selected for each region, and, from these nominees comes the USO Volunteer of the Year is selected and honored at our annual gala.

Here are the 2nd Quarter Volunteer Nominees!

HM1 Katherine Chih – Europe USO Volunteer of the Quarter
Hospital Corpsman First Class Katherine Chih is a familiar face at the USO Warrior Center at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. During her full-time job duties, she assists Coalition Forces, contractors and non-combat injured service members, with total patient care 12-14 hours a day, five days a week. She also is the Navy lead for the Family Readiness Group.

Despite these huge responsibilities, Katherine still finds time to serve troops by volunteering at the USO. She comes to the center during her lunch hour to assist the staff with midday Distinguished Visitors, host luncheons for the wounded or simply answer phones when staff members are busy. She has come to know many of the wounded on a personal level due to her dedication both on and off duty.  The USO Warrior Center is honored to select Katherine Chih as Volunteer of the Quarter for the Europe region.

Eric Barth – Southwest Asia USO Volunteer of the Quarter
Eric Barth is a valued member of USO Qatar. With more than 700 volunteer hours, Eric is one of the center’s most dependable. His commitment to the USO is invaluable, and his dedication is displayed in his efforts to keeping the center running smoothly at all times. As a member of the base Security Forces, Eric is on-call with the military 24-hours a day, yet spends most of his spare time volunteering with the USO.

Eric not only learned behind-the-counter processes such as checking out games and movies, but he also is instrumental in assisting service members as they tape United Through Reading® Military Program recordings. His technology expertise is helpful in ensuring that the center’s gaming stations are operating properly. Eric also is responsible for setting up Pro vs. GI Joe matches and weekly gaming tournaments, events that boost service member morale.  Eric goes above and beyond any and all expectations of what a USO volunteer stands for, and truly deserves the title of USO Southwest Asia’s Volunteer of the Quarter.

Sanae Ogawa – Pacific USO Volunteer of the Quarter
Affectionately known as “Sunny” by her peers and center colleagues, Sanae Ogawa volunteers nearly 90 hours a month to the USO. Her local connections have proved vital persuading local businesses to financially support the USO.  During the Thanksgiving holiday celebration, she volunteered to help serve more than 250 single and unaccompanied sailors. During the annual Cookie Caravan event, she helped bake and distribute more than 4,000 bags of homemade cookies.

Sanae also was an integral part of USO Sasebo’s “Christmas Talk With Your Mouth Full” event, arriving at 5:30 a.m. to help set up and feed more than 300 sailors on Christmas morning. She continuously demonstrates her commitment to the USO and our men and woen in uniform. We congratulate her on being the Pacific region’s Volunteer of the Quarter.

Herb Schmeling – United States USO Volunteer of the Quarter
USO Puget Sound Area (USO PSA) volunteer, Herb Schmeling continuously gives his all to the USO, putting our nation’s service members first. As one of the center’s most committed volunteers, he regularly gives 60-80 hours a month, and is always available at a moments notice. He represents USO PSA at Combined Federal Campaign events and Family Deployment Fairs, making sure the Fort McChord military community is aware of USO PSA’s programs and services. He was also instrumental in successful Thanksgiving and Christmas food drives, helping serve holiday meals to more than 400 military families.

Affectionately called the “Godfather of Fort Lewis,” Herb was honored for his exceptional efforts, being selected as Fort Lewis’ Volunteer of the Year for 2008.  USO PSA is extremely thankful for the commitment and enthusiasm that Herb displays on an ongoing basis. He inspires everyone around him and is an excellent pick for the Stateside Volunteer of the Quarter!