USO Manager of Volunteer Operations Kassia Reedy introduces the USO Volunteers of the Quarter for Summer 2019.
Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Lashbrooks | USO Incirlik, Turkey | Europe Region
USO volunteer and Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Lashbrooks is setting the standard for volunteer excellence at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, where he has volunteered for the past nine months, accruing over 1,100 hours of service. Staff say that Lashbrooks’ dedication is most evident during times of high volunteer turnover, when he arrives at the center and simply says, “Where do you need me?” This can-do attitude carries into everything he does, from mentoring new volunteers and cooking impromptu meals for patrons, to re-organizing storage closets. He works to ensure he knows everyone, greets visitors warmly and conducts himself with a mission-driven focus.
Not only is Lashbrooks an exemplary center host, he has also contributed to the creation of new and exciting programming at USO Incirlik. As a bilingual service member, Michael developed a personal relationship with the Spanish military forces who also support the NATO mission. Through this collaboration, he worked with their teams to organize several events, including a paella cooking demonstration, where he served as both coordinator and translator. Through this personal relationship with the Spanish military, the USO center has expanded their programmatic reach, initiated cross-cultural communication within the center and has demonstrated the true mission value of the USO.
“Michael is what every volunteer should strive to be. He provides an example of what true dedicated, selfless service really is. You can always count on Michael to be the friendly face patrons see as soon as they walk through the door. He is quick to ensure new volunteers fit in and are comfortable in their role,” said Matt Millen, center manager of USO Incirlik. “He is the epitome of what a volunteer should be for any organization and we are privileged to call him a USO volunteer because he wholeheartedly believes in our mission.”
Lashbrooks leads by example and always works with the mindset of leaving a place better than when he found it. He is devoted to the USO, supporting over 30 programs, yet never seeks recognition. Lashbrooks’ contributions and selfless service make him a true Force Behind the Forces®.
The Volunteer of the Quarter of Summer 2019 for the Pacific Region has asked not to be recognized publicly. We appreciate and acknowledge their service to the USO and to our service members.
Jane Sinclair | USO El Paso, Texas | U.S. Region
At USO El Paso, volunteer Jane Sinclair, or ‘Janie’ as her USO friends call her, is well known for radiating a warm and comforting presence to the service members and families who visit the center. Staff say her personality delights the visitors and makes them feel at home. Sinclair is a dedicated volunteer, having contributed to the mission for the last two years and giving over 400 hours of service with USO El Paso.
Sinclair is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to program planning, fostering community ties and managing events. Sinclair played a key role in planning and executing the “Sisters-in-Arms” event, a program focused on self-care and wellness for female active-duty service members. She used community ties from her previous days as a non-profit executive director to coordinate a motivational speaker to facilitate a targeted workshop, and she later scrambled to help book a new keynote speaker when the previous talent cancelled at the last minute. This program was such a success that USO El Paso has created a similar recurring event, “Women Empowering Women,” of which Sinclair plays a key role in coordinating.
“Janie is an extraordinary volunteer. She donates her time to both of our centers whenever we need her. Her flexibility and willingness to assist at a moment’s notice is very much appreciated. She has ‘saved the day’ on multiple occasions and is always quick to respond when needed,” said Lucy Sanchez, USO El Paso manager of volunteers and mobile events. “Janie volunteers to ensure that the USO doors remain open to those service members who don’t have family or a place to go while being stationed in the El Paso area, especially during the holidays.”
Sinclair demonstrates top-level support by maximizing volunteer participation at events, managing diverse personalities and facilitating productive relationships among staff, volunteers and patrons. People naturally feel comfortable around her, service members and families look forward to seeing her and she regularly mentors and encourages those around her. Sinclair demonstrates a commitment to the USO core values and is truly dedicated to providing the best service possible to the USO El Paso community.
Army Sgt. Thomas Dougherty | USO Kandahar, Afghanistan | SWA Region
“Collaborative,” “friendly” and “takes initiative” are all phrases used to describe Army Sgt. Thomas Dougherty, of USO Kandahar. In his first three months as a volunteer, Dougherty accrued over 300 hours with the USO and is known for being a rock the USO staff can rely on to keep the center running smoothly and efficiently. During USO Kandahar’s renovation, Dougherty stepped up, offering to lead events, which freed staff to handle the center move without affecting program delivery.
Dougherty is a leader who assists staff in providing training and orientation to new volunteers and welcomes new patrons, often offering center tours and informational overviews. During special events, Dougherty can be seen organizing teams to ensure no service member is left alone and he often joins in to even-up teams and bring in stragglers. Staff say that he goes out of his way to foster an inclusive environment at USO Kandahar. To that end, Dougherty has taken up learning key phrases in Romanian to make members of our coalition forces feel more welcome. He greets members of the Romanian military in their own language, which they heartily appreciate, and in turn, they have started teaching him more of their language.
“His leadership, work ethic, positive demeanor and daily contributions are not only highly valued by the staff at USO Kandahar, but more importantly, by the service members. This is evident by the feedback we receive in both exit surveys and via word of mouth,” said Leonela De La Mora, duty manager at USO Kandahar. “Tom uses his exuberant personality to always make patrons feel welcome. He builds bridges in the community and helps spread the word about USO offerings.” Dougherty is a key member of the USO family at Kandahar, based largely on his warm personality and his extraordinary contribution to the USO mission.
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