June 4, 2009

Volunteers recognized at 2nd Annual Workshop

By Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Virginia National Guard honored 40 Soldiers, Airmen, spouses and other family members who have volunteered their time and efforts for the Virginia Guard at the second annual Volunteer Recognition Workshop May 29-31 in Virginia Beach.

  2009 Volunteer Workshop

Volunteers Crystal Bayless (middle) and Missy Tipton (right) listen to Laurie Long, an emergency specialist and author of “My Life in a Box,” speak at the 2009 Volunteer Recognition Workshop May 29-31 in Virginia Beach. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

This year’s theme was “Virginia Volunteers, Making a Difference” and Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, was on hand to honor and personally thank the volunteers for their efforts over the past year. 

The purpose of the workshop was to recognize and thank volunteers “for their selfless sacrifice in sharing their precious time and commitment to the Soldiers and Families of the Virginia National Guard,” said Vickie Sais, director of Family Programs. But the workshop also provided them with additional information and training that they can pass on to other volunteers or families.

It’s important to recognize the volunteers and let them know that what they do as a volunteer truly makes a difference, according to Sais.

“We rely heavily on them to help us complete the mission and support the families and Soldiers as they endure many unique challenges faced by today's National Guard,” she said.

  2009 Volunteer Workshop

Attendees at the workshop break up into different groups based on their personality traits during the “Let Your True Colors Shine At Work” exercise. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

During the three-day workshop, attendees were treated to a number of speakers and hands-on exercises.

Tim Cusack, a speaker, trainer and corporate entertainer from Michigan opened the workshop by stressing the importance of being thankful, grateful and optimistic in life. He also addressed the importance of asking for help when you need it.

Robin Wilson from the Langley Air Force Base Airmen Family Readiness Center spoke to the attendees about how to “Let Your True Colors Shine At Work.” Based on his or her personality, someone can be one of four colors. Wilson had the group answer several questions and then had them break up into their respective colors to see if this matched their own personality. She discussed the importance of each color type and how we need all different types of personalities in order to make an organization succeed.

Jacey Eckhart, author, columnist and military spouse, spoke to the group about the difficulties spouses face when someone deploys and she offered up tips to deal with all of the stress.

“Can you leave your home in five minutes in the event of a national disaster?” That was the question asked by Laurie Long, an emergency specialist and author of “My Life in a Box.” Long offered tips on how to get organized and be prepared in case of a hurricane, tornado or other disaster. She her own life experiences as examples of why it’s important to be prepared and have paperwork backed up and filed away.

Chaplain (Maj.) J.D. Moore, Joint Force Headquarters full-time support chaplain, addressed the importance of taking care of yourself and your family before worrying about other issues.

“It’s family first, others second. If you turn it around, you might lose your family,” he said. “Take care of them before you try to rescue the world.”

  2009 Volunteer Workshop

Chaplain (Maj.) J.D. Moore, Joint Force Headquarters full-time support chaplain, discussed the importance of taking care of yourself and your family before worrying about other issues. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Other speakers included Keith Martin from Military Child Education Coalition Overview, which is focused on ensuring quality educational opportunities for all military children affected by mobility, family separation, and transition; Lt. Col. Thomas Morgan, the Virginia National Guard Director of Manpower and Personnel, who discussed the Yellow Ribbon Program; and Christina Hice, who reported on the Virginia National Guard Family Programs Advisory Council.

Volunteers are an important part of the Virginia National Guard organization. They provide support and information to the families so that the Soldiers can concentrate on the mission instead of worrying about what is going on at home. 

“Whether they are part of the family readiness group, youth volunteers or a member of the State Advisory Council, volunteers all provide invaluable services to the families of the Virginia National Guard,” Sais said. “I firmly believe that without their assistance we would not be able to support our families with information and resources they need to become self-reliant and Virginia National Guard Family Programs would not be where it is today.”

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