June 28, 2010

Virginia Guard honors volunteers at 3rd annual Volunteer Recognition Workshop

By Julia Alaric
Virginia Guard Family Programs

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Once again, Family Programs honored the volunteers that support the families of the Virginia National Guard at the third State Volunteer Recognition workshop. The theme for this year’s event was “Virginia Volunteers, The Stars of our Program.”


Some attenedees of the third annual Volunteer Recognition Workshop pose for a photo May 1-2 in Staunton, Va. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Guard Family Programs)

Thirty six volunteers spent the weekend of May 1-2, 2010 at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton, Va. The volunteers represented Family Readiness Groups, the State Leadership Council, the Teen Council and Youth Summer Camp volunteers and committee members. 

Many volunteers were accompanied by their spouse and/or parents. As in past years Family Program’s mission was to educate, inspire, entertain, motivate and thank the volunteers for all that they do on a daily basis to support the families of our Virginia service members.

Saturday began with the volunteers learning to interact and motivate volunteers from all generations as they participated in a very interactive and fun session called “Generations of Volunteers.” This was presented by Dr. Ken Kulp who traveled from Kentucky for this event. Later the same day, Dr. Kulp “performed” an emotional rendition of “The 11 Commandments for Volunteers.”

The education piece of the program included updates on topics including, Joint Family Services Assistance Program, Joint Services Support portal, Post 9/11 GI Bill and an overview of a new program “Basic Training for New Guard Families.”  

But the highlight of the day was during lunch when the volunteers and staff were treated to the stories and life experiences of Trevor Romaine. Romaine, a native of South Africa, shared his experiences of growing up in South Africa, his time in the South African Army and how he overcame many obstacles and challenges to become the inspirational speaker that he is today.

Through his fabulous storytelling, Romaine took the entire audience on an emotional rollercoaster with everyone laughing and crying, often doing both at the same time. His message to the volunteers was clear- they play an invaluable role in the support of our service members and their families. He thanked them and encouraged them to continue doing the great things that they do. Each volunteer received a personally autographed copy of Trevor’s book “The Art of Caring.”


Some attenedees of the third annual Volunteer Recognition Workshop pose for a photo May 1-2 in Staunton, Va. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Guard Family Programs)

Sunday morning was Family Program’s time to officially recognize and thank the volunteers. The former Adjutant General of Virginia, Maj. Gen. Robert B Newman, Jr., and his wife Becky presented crystal vases and trophies to the volunteers along with a certificate of appreciation.

This year, Family Programs provided time for commanders to recognize the volunteers from their specific commands. Among the guests were Col. Blake Ortner, the commander of the 116th Brigade Combat Team, Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Yancey, command sergeant major of the 116th BCT, Lt. Col. Neal Edmonds, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, and his wife Lisa Edmonds, and representing 91st Troop Command, Maj. David Wheeler and Command Sgt. Maj. Henry Motley. Each made presentations to their attending volunteers as well as posed for photographs.

The overall feedback received from the volunteers and commanders was “mission accomplished.” Family Programs succeeded in its objective of educating, inspiring, entertaining, motivating and thanking the volunteers for all that they have done and will continue to do. Family Program’s staff is already looking forward to the next year’s Annual Volunteer Recognition workshop next year.  

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