USO Manager of Volunteer Operations Sarah Kemp introduces the USO Volunteers of the Quarter for Spring 2016.
Army Sgt. Andrew Frederick | USO Camp Buehring, Afghanistan | SWA Region
You haven’t seen a spades tournament until you’ve seen USO Camp Buehring’s spades tournament. What used to be a friendly game between six to eight teams has grown into a twice-weekly tournament with 40 to 50 teams. The growth in numbers and fun was all due to Sgt. Andrew Frederick’s enthusiasm and leadership.
From the rules and regulations to bracket selection and event execution, every detail is meticulously planned and executed by Frederick in a professional manner for the scores of participants.
USO Camp Buehring welcomed a new battalion of soldiers to base during the 2015 holiday season. Faced with a diminished volunteer corps due to the end of several deployments, the center needed new volunteers fast. Seeing this, Frederick stepped up and recruited more soldiers to fill the ranks.
Christina Ambrose, USO Camp Buehring Duty Manager, recalled a time Frederick assisted another soldier with a United Through Reading recording.
“I overheard Andrew tell him, ‘Hey man, it’s great. I have a 6-year-old son myself. They’re going to love it,” Ambrose said. “Something as simple as those few words of reassurance completely changed the soldier’s demeanor. … Right then and there I saw the impact that Andrew had on this soldier and his family.”
Frederick’s jokester attitude and jovial spirit help service members, volunteers, and staff at USO Camp Beuhring forget they’re in an austere environment and make everyone feel like family.
Army Spc. Alexander Jabin | USO Camp Walker, Korea | PAC Region
It’s an honor in the military when a high-ranking officer gives you his challenge coin. Spc. Alexander Jabin received this honor recently for his USO volunteer service. A colonel from a Ranger regiment who was at Camp Walker for a two-week exercise coined Jabin for his dedication to keeping the USO open for all the visiting service members.
Jabin logged 80 hours of volunteer service during those two weeks. Jabin still single-handedly keeps the lights on at the center past normal operating hours. While most eating establishments on base close at 8 p.m., he keeps the food at the USO hot until 11 p.m most nights.
“In my six years with the USO, I have never seen a volunteer so tirelessly give of self and so completely embody the core values of the USO,” said Brad Hinkle, USO Camp Walker’s center manager. “He does this as a matter of course, motivated by an innate altruism that is so rare.”
On a recent Sunday night, a water pipe burst in the ceiling of the Camp Walker center. Jabin called the fire department and stayed until 3 a.m. assisting with the cleanup, even though he knew he had morning PT. The USO center could have experienced severe damage had Jabin not reacted so quickly.
Gwen Reese | USO Kaiserslautern, Germany | Europe
When military families were evacuated from Turkey, Gwen Reese was there to greet them when they landed in Germany with a large smile and a welcoming spirit.
Reese isn’t deterred by short-notice requests or by long, late hours required during such volunteer opportunities. She thrives on knowing the importance of such missions. Reese recently stepped up to become the lead volunteer for two USO Kaiserslautern area deployment centers. She has recruited and trained new volunteers so that each center can be open extended hours for the service members.
Reese’s engaging demeanor helps the service members who may be nervous or missing home feel connected and at ease. As a mother of two Marines, she is always eager to swap stories and she lights up when she can make a service member smile.
“Gwen has a very outgoing personality and genuine desire to support the troops and this livens up their sometime somber moods, especially the patients that are being flown back to the U.S. on the aeromedical missions,” USO Kaiserslautern Volunteer Coordinator Kenda Brouns said.
Whether it is aeromedical missions, deployment operations or a small event, Reese is always by the side of our service members making important connections when family members may not be near.
Ron Meier | Bob Hope USO-Palm Springs | CONUS
Ron Meier never stops working for the USO.
Over the last four years, Meier has donated more than 5,200 hours of his time to the USO mission. He is carpenter, painter, cargo handler, sandwich maker, volunteer time keeper, volunteer trainer and innovator.
Ten days before Super Bowl 50, the Marines at Camp Wilson on Twentynine Palms asked for assistance in bringing the Super Bowl to their location, as they were stuck on a training base that had no internet, cellphone or television service. Meier researched and arranged for a portable satellite dish to be taken to Camp Wilson along with plenty of snacks. Nearly 2,000 Marines enjoyed the game due to Meier’s quick thinking.
Meier has also implemented the Bob Hope USO-Palm Springs Operation: Sandwich Drop. He organizes volunteers to make 120 brown bag lunches and hand deliver them planeside to the students and staff arriving for the Marine Infantry Officer Course.
“Additionally, Ron played an important part in turbo-charging our virtually non-existent outreach programs,” said Teresa Cherry, the Bob Hope USO-Palm Springs center manager. “In one year, Bob Hope USO-Palm Springs went from serving 1,047 troops and their families on base to 14,888 through outreach programs.”
Meier is known throughout the military community. Now when a unit requests USO assistance for a program, the question always asked is if Meier will be attending. To their delight, the answer is always a resounding, “of course!”
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.