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Volunteers of the Quarter Spring 2013

USO Director of Story Development Eric Brandner and USO Manager of Volunteer Operations Sarah Kemp profile the Volunteers of the Quarter, Spring 2013. 

Desirae McCutchen | EUR Region: USO Stuttgart, Germany

USO Stuttgart Volunteer Desirae McCutchen

Travelocity has a roaming gnome, Priceline has William Shatner and USO Stuttgart has Desirae McCutchen.  Whether troops and their families are looking for a historic tour of a castle in Heidelberg, an awesome snowboard adventure or a relaxing wine tour, Desirae knows how, when and where to make it happen!

Desirae commits more than 30 hours a week to the Tours Department of USO Stuttgart in Germany. She is an integral part of the team and involved in every step including planning, advertising and implementing tours. She helps produce “The Kiosk” publication that details upcoming travel arrangements available through the USO. An experienced world traveler herself, Desirae brings her passion for travel and tips for finding the best trips to all the military families that she serves.

As Angie Hawkins, the USO Tours Manager says, “Troops like talking to Desirae, as she has a vast knowledge of where to travel for ski and snowboarding in the local area.” When Desirae isn’t orchestrating a planned trip, she’s busy researching destinations for new trips and festivals for USO patrons to experience.

Her enthusiastic attitude, caring personality and overwhelming dedication are demonstrated far beyond the Tours Department. Desirae jumps in to help whenever she sees a need either at the front desk, in the programs department, or with a family that is adjusting to life on a new base.

The gnome may be cute, and Shatner may be funny, but unlike a character on TV, Desirae McCutchen is present, in person, every day, helping our troops and their families experience the best trip ever.

Suzy Hicks | CONUS Region: USO Fort Drum

USO Fort Drum Volunteer Suzy Hicks

You have to hope Suzy Hicks drives a comfortable car.

Hicks, the USO’s Volunteer of the Quarter for the continental United States, regularly makes long drives from Rochester, N.Y., to the USO center on Fort Drum – anywhere from two-and-a-half to four hours each way – to perform volunteer shifts.

“Suzy’s dedication to the military community and improving the morale of those around her is evident in every aspect of her volunteerism,” USO Fort Drum Director Karen Clark wrote in Hicks’ nomination form. “Even though Suzy resides and goes to college in Rochester … she manages to find the time to help out in the center.”

Hicks is no stranger to long commutes in the name of service. She was in the Army and deployed across the globe to Iraq on four occasions: twice from Drum and twice from Fort Hood, Texas.

“As a former soldier, Suzy understands how important it is for USO Fort Drum to be serving those who serve our country,” Clark wrote. “Her dedication and loyalty to USO Fort Drum invaluable, and she is a shining example of what a USO volunteer should be.”

Hicks plays key roles in USO Fort Drum’s operation. She “routinely does the volunteer schedule flawlessly and unsupervised,” according to Clark, while also serving as a “There When They Land” volunteer, training other volunteers and generally raising morale at the center with her attitude and performance.

“By [Suzy] setting an example of maintaining order and organization in a high-spirited atmosphere, the entire volunteer climate here has been greatly improved,” Clark wrote.

Claudette McGhee | PAC Region: USO Guam

USO Guam Volunteer Claudette McGhee

Baseball. Apple Pie. Claudette McGhee. Three American institutions.

People know about the first two, but McGhee’s work for the troops on Guam cannot be overlooked or understated.

When the sun rises, McGhee is at USO Guam cooking breakfast for troops and families. When troops come into the center, she’s there with tips on how to navigate the island’s highlights. She works on countless USO-led community events. And when new volunteers arrive at USO Guam, McGhee takes them under her wing.

She spent 422 volunteer hours at the USO in the last quarter.

“[McGhee’s] knowledge of USO programs and center policies, along with her humorous-but-kind demeanor, has given her notoriety among our guests,” wrote USO Hawaii Director Leigh Leilani Graham, who also oversees USO Guam. “She is always willing to help others and has the ability to comfort all making sure they feel at home.

“As a former educator and lifelong resident of Guam, she has become a wealth of knowledge for all of our military families that are new to Guam.”

McGhee’s career in the classroom gave her the skills to streamline a lot of volunteer training at USO Guam. She created training outlines for new volunteers that reflect the most current procedures. She also created checklists for new volunteers so they can remember the little things that need to be done around the center.

“[McGhee’s] ability to combine compassion and humor when assisting with training new volunteers has made the center a fun place to volunteer and an enjoyable place for our military guests and their families,” Graham said. “As a result the Guam USO has seen an increased number of new volunteers and number of guest visits.”

Sgt. Carl Baker | SWA Region: Pat Tillman USO, Afghanistan

Pat Tillman USO Volunteer Sgt. Carl Baker

After he volunteered, Sgt. Carl Baker volunteered.

It takes a special commitment to sign up for one of America’s all-volunteer military branches. And once he was downrange, Baker found a way to give back to his fellow troops by signing up as a volunteer at the Pat Tillman USO in Bagram, Afghanistan.

“Sgt. Baker is a caring leader who takes initiative and applies himself thoroughly,” Pat Tillman USO Director Scott Wilhite wrote in the form nominating Baker for USO Volunteer of the Quarter. “Sgt. Baker delegates time in between missions and a heavy workload to dedicate time to the USO and volunteering. Within three months of serving his deployment, Sgt. Baker has contributed over 300 [volunteer] hours.”

Those hours have been spent all over the USO spectrum. Wilhite credited Baker with taking initiative every time he set foot into the center. He’s become famous for recreation activities like the March Madness 3-on-3 Basketball Event, coordinating the big-picture logistics of the tournament and letting other volunteers execute the proceedings. He also helped cook and run games during the center’s Super Bowl party, and has led the way on running poker, spades and PlayStation3® tournaments during his time downrange.

Already named the Tillman center’s volunteer of the month for March, Baker has worked to recruit other volunteers and is well versed at training fellow troops on how to use the USO center’s technology to call home or record United Through Reading DVDs.

“Sgt. Baker is truly unique in many ways,” Wilhite wrote. “Baker has a take-charge/can-do attitude, and this positively impacts our staff [and] volunteers. His manner, charismatic persona and humble attitude are a true asset to the center. “

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