JBSA recognizes work of volunteers during pandemic at awards ceremony

  • Published
  • By David DeKunder
  • 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Joint Base San Antonio recognized the dedication and hard work of the individuals and groups who continue to lend a helping hand to the military community, even amid a pandemic, during the Volunteer of the Year Awards ceremony April 21 at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Military & Family Readiness Center.

Awards were presented to 18 individuals and three groups for their volunteer work in 2020 in support of various organizations throughout JBSA. The winners were selected from a total of 50 nominations, covering 10 award categories, submitted by JBSA members.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, only individual and group award winners, JBSA officials and organizers were in attendance at the ceremony, which was broadcast on Facebook Live. Participants and those in attendance were required to wear face coverings and seating was set up for physical distancing.

Presenting awards and giving remarks at the ceremony were Brig. Gen. Caroline M. Miller, 502d Air Base Wing and JBSA commander; Rear Adm. Cynthia Kuehner, Naval Medical Forces Support Command commander; and Robert Naething, U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) deputy to the commanding general.

Awards were presented in the following categories:

  • Outstanding Active-Duty Service Member Volunteer of the Year: Seaman Carla Kharisma, United Service Organizations;
  • Outstanding Family Member Volunteer of the Year: Dara Caygill, 37th Training Group, JBSA-Lackland;
  • Outstanding Retiree Volunteer of the Year: Retired Col. Lorrie Cappellino, 59th Medical Wing, Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, JBSA-Lackland;
  • Outstanding Civilian Volunteer of the Year: Becky Buchanan, USO;
  • Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year: K’leah Loftis, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Patch/Chafee Youth Center;
  • Outstanding Family Volunteer of the Year: McMahon family, Fort Sam Houston Elementary School, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston community;
  • Outstanding Small Group Volunteer of the Year: Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society;
  • Outstanding Large Group Volunteer of the Year: JBSA-Lackland Top III Council.

The Volunteer in Excellence Award went to Ken Neal, Lauren Gray, Ernest Felder Jr. and David Schory; while the President’s Volunteer Service Award went to Mary Jo Hammond, Mary Harper, Victor Lopez, Holly Smith, Joan York, Martha Denney, Sharon Disler, Karen Mann and Renee Townsend.

Kuehner thanked the volunteers, the award winners and nominees, for giving their time to the JBSA community during the pandemic.

“When I think about this year’s volunteers especially, it’s important that congratulations be amplified because of the context and the challenges which all of you have been volunteering in, in spite of those challenges,” Kuehner said. “So, it’s with great humility and gratitude that I extend my congratulations to each of you and all the nominees out there who found the extra time, in spite of the challenges, for the last year.”

In 2020, JBSA members volunteered a total of 95,640 hours, which came out to a monetary value of $2.6 million. According to Independent Sector, an organization of nonprofits, foundations and corporations, the estimated value of volunteer time is $27.20 per hour.

In thanking the JBSA volunteers, Miller said they were an amazing group of individuals.

“We couldn’t do half of the services that we provide if it weren’t for your willingness to come out, to volunteer and just make this a phenomenal installation,” she said.

(Editor's note: For more photos from the Volunteer of the Year Awards ceremony April 21 at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Military & Family Readiness Center, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/jbsapublicaffairs/)