USO Manager of Volunteer Operations Allison Nalley introduces the USO Volunteers of the Quarter for Winter 2017.
Army Master Sgt. Susan Benavidez | USO Camp Arifjan, Kuwait | SWA Region
Susan Benavidez – or “Aunt Sue” as she is affectionately known as around Camp Arifjan – makes everyone feel at home. But it’s not just her down-to-earth personality or her ability to tell it like it is that earns her high praise from staff, patrons and volunteers alike. It’s her ability to support the center in new and unique ways.
Benavidez knows how to make people feel welcome. She created a master information binder filled with maps, bus schedules, phone numbers, FAQs, menus and more. It was the first comprehensive reference guide the base had to offer newly deployed service members and volunteers. The binder helps make the transition as smooth as possible for incoming service members. Additionally, she makes a point to greet everyone and offers her wisdom and a warm smile.
“Sue’s homey presence provides a sense of comfort to everyone she comes in contact with. She affects every soldier here,” said Lindsay Dolan, USO Camp Arifjan’s duty manager.
During the holidays, Benavidez arranged for a bus to transport volunteers to a Thanksgiving feast. Without transportation, many volunteers would have been unable to attend. She ensured the bus drove through a crowded route to draw attention to the handmade signs advertising volunteer opportunities and holiday programs she created and placed on the bus.
Through Benavidez’s warm demeanor and dedication, service members and volunteers feel connected and cared for during their time at Camp Arifjan.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Jogerst | Spangdahlem USO Center, Germany | Europe
Stephen Jogerst continues to exceed expectations at the Spangdahlem USO Center. He is a trusted volunteer with a multitude of abilities, including repairing a frayed wire in a vacuum charger and baking the most delicious cookies – “Stephen’s Cookies” as they are commonly called. Jogerst will step up and cover all aspects of center operations when the need arises.
He shows everyone that volunteering and giving back to the community can be both rewarding and fun. Center attendees regularly seek Jogerst out because he is a great listener.
“He brightens up anyone’s day by just having a small conversation with them,” said Mimi Musser, the program and volunteer coordinator at Spangdahlem USO Center.
Jogerst is also a volunteer management system master. As many volunteers know, getting used to a new database takes time and patience. His ability to use the goals feature helps him stay on track and create a calendar that allows him to keep volunteering, even with his busy schedule.
He has made a lasting impact on the Spangdahlem USO Center during the past year and USO staff will forever be grateful for his contributions.
Sharon Jean Matek | USO Guam - Tumon Bay | Pacific
If you spend any time at the USO Guam’s Tumon Bay center, you’ll know Sharon Jean Matek. She logs about 107 hours per month, with a lifetime total of more than 1,700 hours. She’s volunteered with the USO since 2013 and ensures that the center is always clean, organized and ready to support the service members who visit.
Matek is always ready for a good challenge. When the main storage area needed to be relocated, she jumped at the chance to organize the process. She worked tirelessly with other volunteers to sort through several hundred pounds of fixtures, equipment, materials, appliances and more to downsize and prepare everything for transfer to the new location. She continues to finalize details for the move, coordinate clean ups and ensure the entire process is smooth.
“‘What more can I do?’ is a common phrase out of Sharon Jean Matek’s mouth,” said Edmund Lebita, area programs director at USO Guam. “Sharon’s genuine care for others truly sets her apart. Everyone becomes family as soon as they meet her.”
Her love for the USO spurred Matek to interact with more of the visitors at the center – something she says is her favorite part about volunteering. Because of this, she maintains a busy schedule. She does the laundry twice a week, helps with all the special events and makes sure that the kitchen is always cleaned and well-stocked.
USO Guam’s Tumon Bay center is lucky to have a great volunteer like her.
Lisa Quanci | USO of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey | Stateside
Lisa Quanci is a jack-of-all-trades volunteer. She provides support for the center, acts as an escort for the Families of the Fallen program and raises thousands of dollars for the organization though fundraising initiatives. She even painted a mural in the children’s center.
Quanci shines as a programmatic and fundraising support volunteer. When her center had the opportunity to host an Operation That’s My Dress event last year, she sprang into action, securing donations of flowers, beauty products and transportation. Her success was so immense that the beauty products will support an event next year, too.
“Lisa always has the biggest smile on her face and is always ready to help out anyone in need,” said Jennifer Hodur, the families of the fallen support manager at USO of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey.
It is clear that she believes in the mission of the USO. This past holiday season, Quanci recruited 11 friends to adopt families through the Adopt-a-Family program. They provided toys and gifts cards to help make the holidays unforgettable for service members and military families.
Lisa Quanci would help anyone in need. She is an inspiration for the USO of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey and the USO is grateful for her continued support.
You can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect. Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.
More from the USO
Feb 15, 2018
7 Ways WWII Soldiers Shaped Outdoor Sports in America
If you're watching the Winter Olympics you've certainly seen American alpine star Mikaela Shiffrin race down mountains and snowboarder Chloe Kim ride to a gold medal in the women's halfpipe. They're amazing athletes whose names are recognized around the world, but the names of the mountain men who helped popularize outdoor sports in the 1940s are not as famous.
Feb 9, 2018
Combat Cooking with USO Camp Arifjan: Chocolate Cookies
For the next installment of Combat Cooking, the USO Camp Arifjan team in Kuwait shared their coveted chocolate cookie recipe and offered a few tips and tricks for whipping up these homemade treats in a non-traditional kitchen like the one at the USO center.