SFC Luis Manuel Pascual | SWA Region: USO FOB Fenty, Afghanistan
During his deployment at USO FOB Fenty in Afghanistan, you’d never know by Sergeant Luis Manuel Pascual’s big grin and cheerful attitude that he was hard at work every day serving his country. As a matter of fact, his fun-loving nature as a USO volunteer was a prime recruitment tool for the center, inspiring others to volunteer because he made it look so fun and rewarding.
However, it wasn’t just his smiles and laughs that lured both visitors and new volunteers into the center. One of his secrets was the delicious Puerto Rican dishes he served up at the USO. By using ingredients from the care packages he received from home, he knew just how to soothe their souls and inspire them to volunteer through the magic of food.
When USO FOB Fenty was in the process of planning the Nashville Country Music Marathon on Memorial Day, Pascual stayed late to help organize and plan every night the week prior. He also showed up at 0300 the morning of the race to set up, stayed for the next 7 hours to help with executing the marathon, and after a short break returned to assist with Memorial Day programming later that night.
Even though Pascual worked 12-hour shifts as a cryptologic linguist analyzing foreign language communication, he managed to volunteer more than 700 hours at USO FOB Fenty. While he completed the usual volunteer priorities such as working the front desk, helping with United Through Reading, and breaking down care packages, Pascual went beyond this by spending countless hours organizing all the care package items and assisting with constructing new storage rooms and shelving.
“His actions always go above and beyond normal volunteer duties and were instrumental in keeping the center open,” said Regina Wages, USO FOB Fenty Center Manager.
While Pascual has finished his deployment and returned home to the states, his unwavering enthusiasm continues its ripple effect in all the new volunteers who continue to serve at USO FOB Fenty.
Nancy Takagi | PAC Region: USO Humphreys, South Korea
A full stomach makes for a happy person, and Nancy Takagi makes it her mission to keep all of Humphreys’ troops fed well.
Takagi volunteers 5 days a week at Humphreys and is involved in every aspect of programming at the center. Takagi creates ideas for innovative events, manages logistics for outreach and prepares food.
One of Humphrey’s largest programs is Lunchbox, where they offer a free home-cooked meal to troops on base. Takagi is always thinking of new meal ideas, helping with food preparation the day before, and with set-up early in the morning to ensure every Lunchbox is a smoothly operated success.
If a troop can’t make it to the center, then Takagi will help bring some center goodness to them. Troops are guaranteed to have their morale lifted with events like Java Buzz where USO Humphreys delivers coffee and donuts to troops at work, and Sweets on Wheels where volunteers act as an ice cream truck handing out freeze pops on hot days.
During her 30 or more hours of volunteer service a week Takagi takes time to mentor new volunteers. She not only trains them, but acts as a stellar role model as well.
“She has been one of the biggest assets to USO Humphreys. Nancy is a volunteer we can count on every day. She is a proactive volunteer, always looking for ways to help the USO staff,” said Howard Seo, USO Humphreys Center Manager.
The only thing larger than Takagi’s dedication to USO Humphreys is the positive impact she is making on troops and their families.
ABH2 Brent E. Paucke | EUR Region: USO Naples, Italy
When Gotham City needs help they call Batman, and when USO Naples needs help they call Petty Officer Brent Paucke.
Although Pauke’s entrance may not be quite as dramatic as a caped crusader, USO Naples knows that when he’s around, they can depend on him to save the day. When a USO staff member was suddenly unable to attend the USO Naples Multicultural Summer Fest, Paucke took on the responsibility of hosting the event. He coordinated logistics for everything from tent set up to volunteer management and stage entertainment so 400 troops and their families could enjoy the successful event.
Using his knack for problem solving Paucke saved USO Naples $1000 of valuable funds. Upon hearing that USO Naples would be charged $1000 for the breakdown and disposal of old furnishings during a renovation, Paucke personally dismantled the old partitions and furnishings himself, found other military offices that could use the materials, and then assisted in the rebuilding of the materials at their new office location.
When there were MWR budget cuts to Single Sailor programming, Paucke decided to organize brainstorming sessions with fellow sailors and USO Naples to find a solution. Through his relentless dedication and hard work, Paucke secured a USO programs field grant to host “Single Sailor Snorkeling Tours” and “Single Sailor Go-Karting.” Not only did Paucke create the events and secure the funding, but he encouraged participation, and acted as the group leader during each event as well.
“A common scenario at the USO Capodichino Center when a question or issue arises is seeing Brent reach for his cell phone to find the solution. He is kind, generous, collaborative, respectful, dedicated and puts needs of the troops before his own,” said Sabrina Pullido, USO Naples Area Director.
Through his volunteer service to the USO, his career with the US Navy, and his selfless demeanor in every aspect of his life, Paucke is answering the call to serve others every day.
Edie Cefaly | CONUS Region: USO El Paso
USO El Paso can credit numerous troop visits, new volunteers, and committed supporters, to the efforts of Edie Cefaly.
When she’s not working at the USO, Cefaly is telling people about it. She increases public awareness and understanding of the USO and its mission in the surrounding community.
Cefaly leads canteen events every other week for the past year, preparing and taking food to troops who are training at McGregor Field. Because of her leadership skills, Cefaly has been trusted to run the canteen events without staff supervision. After serving food, Cefaly always takes the time to hang up her apron, and talk to the troops. As a result other volunteers emulate her, and seek her advice to better serve the troops.
Cefaly volunteers three times a week at one of the center locations, and was quickly made a team leader. Her integrity, trustworthiness and dependability make Cefaly an excellent mentor for other volunteers and a friendly and comforting presence for troops and their families.
She knows all the “regulars” by name and knows their preferences for food and video games. She makes sure every troop, family member and fellow volunteer feel special and welcomed.
“Edie makes excellent first impressions, recognizes the needs of others and builds a climate of trust among volunteers and the management team. During her time at the centers she provides the highest level of customer service and ensures that our troops and their families feel satisfied and appreciated,” said Lucy Sanchez, USO El Paso Volunteer Manager.
The USO mission to lift the spirits of America’s troops and their families is not just something Cefaly tells others about, it is a mission she lives every day.