Airman earns award for community service

By Julie Smith/JBLM PAO on April 19, 2013

As a boy, Airman 1st Class William Behl attended leadership training at summer camp in his home state of Wisconsin and learned four core values ­­­- respect, caring, honesty and responsibility.

In 2012 as a recent Air Force recruit, the 27 year old brought those values with him to Joint Base Lewis-McChord where he began to volunteer in the community after duty and on the weekends.

That community service and Behl's involvement with the 2012 Combined Federal Campaign of South Puget Sound earned him the 2012 South Sound Hero Award, presented April 9 by JBLM Commander Col. Charles H. Hodges Jr. at the annual United Way of Pierce County Community Celebration in downtown Tacoma.

"It feels so great," said a beaming Behl.

His involvement with CFC began last year when he gathered a team for a charity golf event at the American Lake Veterans Golf Course in Lakewood. He and his friends collected pledges to donate to a local nonprofit organization through CFC. Behl then coordinated a team and secured pledges for a charity bowling event and also raised $300 in one day for a 5K run to benefit the CFC.

Melanie Manista-Rushforth, director of CFC of South Puget Sound, began to take notice.

"(Behl) was a go-getter, he really was," she said. "He stood out as someone who made a big difference."

The CFC is the most successful annual workplace giving campaign thanks to the generosity of federal civilian employees and military service members. Pledges support eligible nonprofit organizations that provide basic needs and supportive services to communities locally, nationally and internationally.

Behl felt so strongly about the campaign that after being appointed the CFC flight representative for his squadron, he made sure to contact each of the 150 service members in his unit face-to-face to encourage them to give.

"I gave briefings before work and after work," he said. "I even talked to people that I didn't work with. I'd see people at the DFAC and tell them about the cause."

His enthusiasm and energy paid off, and in a span of six weeks Behl helped raise almost $5,000 for CFC. His hard work resulted in three different individuals nominating him for the 2012 South Sound Hero Award, something that Manista-Rushforth said has never happened before.

Behl continues his community service through Adopt-A-Highway cleanups with his squadron, working with Airmen Against Drunk Driving, reading to children at Carter Lake Elementary and serving as the secretary for McChord Field's Rising 4 Airmen's Council, a private organization fostering professional development and community involvement for all Airmen E-4 and below.

"I just want to help those in need," Behl said. "It's so fulfilling."