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Volunteers critical members to Team Pope's success

  • Published
  • By Col. John McDonald
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Vice Commander
The month of March was designated as American Red Cross Month in 1943 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The key to the success of this cornerstone American institution has been the incredible number of selfless volunteers crucial to reaching out to many in their time of need. I hope each of you will extend this  "Presidential decree" and recognize a group of folks here at Pope absolutely critical to our success -- the huge number of volunteers crucial to keeping our "trains running on time." Folks like Master Sgt. Stephen Pederson, our Pope Volunteer of the Year for 2007, or Amy Vollmer, who has put in more than 3,300 volunteer hours at the Airman & Family Readiness Center over the past eight-and-a-half years. Volunteers are so integral to Team Pope, we would be hard-pressed to complete our day-to-day mission, never mind all the "special functions" that take place, without them. 

Last year, Pope had more than 700 active volunteers who put in 384,000-plus hours at Pope Elementary School, the A&FRC, Pope Clinic and other agencies around the base. That's a huge amount of time freely donated to help improve the quality of life both on base and in our local communities. Volunteers made our Military Family Appreciation Week a benchmark success, and truth be told, any event, if it has a chance to be successful, only has that chance because of volunteers giving of themselves to ensure success. To put it into perspective, if we paid our volunteers $6.50 an hour, it would cost us almost $2.5 million to hire people to do those same tasks, and we'd have to pay a lot more than $6.50 an hour to get folks to do what some of our volunteers do purely out of their commitment to the better good of all. 

The bottom line is, a lot of events would never happen without our volunteers. Operation Little Gryphon, the Airman's Attic, the Thrift Shop, Breakfast with Santa, the Chief's Induction Ceremony, and the Monthly Wing Promotion Ceremony -- the picture should be clear, these events and more, are only possible because of volunteers. 

So, the next time you're at the Pope School, the A&FRC, or anywhere else that you see folks making a commitment to serve for the betterment of all by volunteering their time and efforts, stop and take a moment to say thank you. Even better, give Denni Renteria, the Pope Volunteer Coordinator, a call at 394-2538 and see how you can join our volunteer force. 

Never doubt, just as volunteers made the difference in the success of the Red Cross during WWII, our committed Team Pope volunteers truly have a positive impact on the successes we enjoy and our outstanding ability to execute our mission each and every day. 

Also, special congratulations to Master Sgt. Michael Gardner and Cynthia Cline, Pope Chapel, who received the Gerald Cullins Award as the Air Mobility Command Senior NCO Chaplain Assistant and Chaplain Service Civilian of the Year. 

Remember, no matter what you do, do it the best you possibly can. Be SAFE, and ALWAYS be there for your WINGMAN.