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JBLM recognizes volunteers

Over 70 acknowledged at annual luncheon

Volunteer Family of the Year winners Twyla and Harold Allen are congratulated by Col. Nicole Lucas, JBLM Garrison commander, and Col. Mark Fuhrmann, 62nd Operations Group commander May 30. Photo credit: Lauren Finnegan

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Over 70 volunteers were recognized for their continuing contribution to Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) and the surrounding communities at the 2019 Volunteer Recognition Luncheon at the American Lake Conference Center May 30.

Each year, the JBLM Directorate of Personnel and Family Readiness asks the community to nominate volunteers who not only help the community but are also an inspiration to others.

"Today's recognition luncheon acknowledges JBLM volunteers who dedicate their time, talents and energy to our community," said Alecia Grady, director of JBLM DPFR. "Our volunteer corps is made of remarkable individuals who strive to meet challenges, accomplish goals and improve the quality of military and community life."

A facsimile check of more than $2.7 million was presented to Lt. Gen. Gary Volesky, I Corps commanding general, Col. Nicole Lucas, JBLM Garrison commander, and Col. Mark Furhmann, 62nd Operations Group commander. The check represented the monetary value of the volunteer hours donated during the past year.

"Our volunteers extended the Army's budget as a result of their dedication, commitment and volunteer contributions to JBLM," Grady said.

Eleven people and one family received awards at the annual luncheon.

Staff Sgt. Christanie Alexander, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, as well as Sharon Berg, Wayne Jackson, Kathy Oroho, Carri Fisher and Barbara Wold were selected as Volunteers of Merit.

JBLM spouse Stacie Pogoncheff was honored with the Emma Marie Baird Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service for her constant efforts working within the DPFR's Exceptional Family Member Program.

The JBLM Community Volunteer of the Year went to Dorris Okoro for her work with Jack and Jill of America and the Tacoma Boys and Girls Club. Within these organizations, Okoro routinely mentors children, assists in early literacy programs, works to harvest and distribute food for emergency needs and provides sick and elderly patients with food and comfort blankets.

The JBLM Retiree Volunteer of the Year, Kerri Robbins, volunteers 30 hours a week with EFMP. In addition, Robbins, a former Army medic, provides Healthy Living Academy training to JBLM units and was recognized by her local community as the first to respond during the June 2018 Tumwater Walmart shooting.

The Allen family, Harold and Twyla, along with daughters Taylor, Vicky, Tammie and Sharrell, were chosen as the JBLM Family of the Year for their dedication to volunteering with the Grace Gospel service on JBLM.

Harold Allen said their work with the hospitality, women's and youth ministries, the chapel choir and the religious education ministry were places where they saw a need for assistance and stepped up.

"It serves us to serve people," Harold Allen said. "If there's a situation that needs help, we can't leave. If we do, then nothing will happen to make a difference. At least when we help, we can try and do the best that we can."

Senior Airman Brittany De La Rosa, 627th Force Support Squadron, was selected as the Active-Duty Volunteer of the Year. In addition to raising over $2,000 for the squadron's booster club, she was the head coach for two JBLM Child and Youth Services' junior soccer teams. She also routinely volunteers with the City of Tacoma's Special Olympics of Washington program and works at the Olympia Interfaith Works homeless shelter.

Red Cross volunteer Christine Curren was awarded the JBLM Volunteer of the Year award. Curren volunteers three to five days a week with the organization as its lead case worker and has assisted military families during disasters such as Hurricane Michael in 2018.

Curren was inspired to start working with the Red Cross after 9/11.

"I was sitting there in my living room watching the TV like everyone else on that day and I just felt hopeless," Curren said. "Then I thought there's got to be something I can do, so I called the Red Cross and said, ‘Let's go. What can I do? What do you need?' And now I'm a part of the solution.

"I'm very grateful to be able to assist and to have servicemembers and their families know that they can call the Red Cross, and we will help them."

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