To recognize the outstanding contributions of our volunteers, USO centers from our four operating regions—Stateside, Europe, Southwest Asia, and the Pacific—nominate a volunteer for “Volunteer of the Quarter” four times a year. This individual has gone above and beyond in supporting our troops and demonstrating their commitment to the USO mission. From this group of outstanding volunteers a “Volunteer of the Year” is then selected for each region, and, from these nominees comes the USO Volunteer of the Year is selected and honored at our annual gala.
Here are the 2nd Quarter Volunteer Nominees!
Raised in a military family, Soraya Franklin knows what it means for a service member to be on the move. And she understands the needs of troops and their families. “We need to ensure this is a five-star facility,” is Sonaya’s constant mantra about USO Vicenza. Her standards are high, and she leads by example rather than just words. Along with working three jobs and volunteering with the Vicenza Community Club and Vicenza’s City Library, she still dedicates at least two hours a day to USO Vicenza.
During a six-week period that the USO Vicenza was closed for renovations, Sonaya volunteered more than 70 hours, working hard to get the USO reopened for business. Although the renovation of USO Vicenza was unexpected, Sonaya never missed a beat. She seized the opportunity and embraced the challenge of improving the center so that it would be ready to serve its community. Her honor and loyalty are sincerely appreciated and we are happy to name her Europe’s Volunteer of the Quarter.
Petty Officer First Class Jeffery Reed - United States Region USO Volunteer of the Quarter
When Petty Officer First Class Jeffery Reed could no longer fulfill his daily obligations to the military, he became a USO volunteer. Since August 2009, PO1 Reed has been the lead volunteer for the USO Gulf Coast’s Navy Construction Battalion Center (NCNB) in Gulfport, MS.
Demonstrating the same drive and dedication he has always given to his more than 20 years of military service, PO1 Reed took charge in helping the center relocate. His efforts saved USO Gulf Coast large amounts of money on consulting fees.
Reed’s positive leadership and mentoring are great examples to his fellow volunteers. Under his volunteer leadership, the volunteer turnover rate for the USO lounge on NCBC is the lowest it has ever been. He is a positive example of service for USO staff and volunteers alike. We applaud PO1 Reed on being Volunteer of the Quarter!
Sailors and Marines visiting USO Dubai are always happy to meet Vanessa Engelhardt, a dedicated center volunteer. Born in Australia and raised in Germany, Vanessa uses her background to break the ice with center visitors, making them feel comfortable and at home.
USO Dubai is unique because it isn’t open daily. However, when a U.S. Naval ship pulls into port, up to 1,000 sailors and Marines can descend on the center in short order. During these times, Vanessa usually volunteers every day for regular seven-hour shifts. Center visitors enjoy the baked goods that Vanessa has waiting for them when a ship comes into port. For a service member who has been out to sea for weeks, or even months, a fresh cookie or brownie made with lots of TLC can mean so much! She loves to help out in any way possible and we congratulate her on being Southwest Asia’s Volunteer of the Quarter!
Master Sergeant Shane Price knows a thing or two about big projects. As a flight chief at Osan Air Base, not only does he keep his entire squadron operating smoothly, but he has recruited fellow airmen to volunteer more than 1,500 hours during special events like Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band Concert, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Holiday Show, and most recently the Sesame Street/USO Experience.
MSgt. Price was instrumental in the planning and initial implementation of the Virtues Outreach Program in Songtan, South Korea. This program promotes stronger ties between the U.S. military and local Korean community through English language instruction. He also ensures volunteer staffing for every day tasks, and his efforts greatly contribute to USO Osan consistently having the highest number of volunteer in Korea. Price’s volunteer contributions are extensive, and his dedication to the USO and commitment to the Korean—American partnership is an inspiration to all he meets. Congrats on being USO Pacific’s Volunteer of the Quarter!
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Mar 20, 2017
Deployed Service Members ‘Break Free from Reality’ at USO Bagram's Paint and Sip Program
Before 2016, the last time Army Sgt. Derek Peterson picked up a paint brush was in high school – which, he admits, was quite a few years ago. “I would like to be [considered an artist],” Peterson said. “But I hadn’t done any real art since [then].” So, when Peterson heard about the USO Southwest Asia’s two new art programs – Paint and Sip and Art on Tap -- during a recent deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan, he knew it was the perfect opportunity to get back to his creative roots