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NEWS | Oct. 2, 2020

JBSA’s annual Volunteer Awards Ceremony Oct. 28

By David DeKunder 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Joint Base San Antonio will recognize the efforts of individuals and groups who have helped and given their time to the local community at the ninth annual Volunteer Awards Ceremony Oct. 28 at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Military & Family Readiness Center.  

The ceremony starts at 3 p.m. in the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC auditorium with limited, by invitation only, seating due to coronavirus or, COVID-19, restrictions. The event will be streamed on Facebook Live. 

Brig. Gen. Caroline Miller, 502d Air Base Wing and JBSA commander, will present awards to six individuals and three groups for their volunteer work in 2019. The award winners are among a total of 59 nominations submitted, covering nine award categories, submitted from JBSA members. 

Dina Castro, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC Volunteer Program director, said the ceremony will be scaled down from previous years because of COVID-19. Only individual and group award winners, JBSA officials, speakers and ceremony organizers will be in attendance to limit possible exposure to COVID-19. 

Participants and those in attendance will be required to wear face coverings and seating will be set up for physical distancing. 

Despite the restrictions and adjustments being put into place because of the pandemic, Castro said the focus of the ceremony is still the same – honoring the hard work and dedication of JBSA volunteers. 

“The primary thing is, we’re going to be celebrating all of our nominees and the winners,” Castro said. “That’s what this is about. This event is really celebrating them and just being appreciative to them for all that they do.” 

Individuals and groups have been nominated for the volunteer service they have given at various organizations throughout JBSA that support and assist active-duty members, military families, retirees, government civilians and youth. 

The ceremony was scheduled to be held in April but was postponed due to COVID-19.  

Castro said the challenge for the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC was how and when to conduct the ceremony safely, in the midst of a pandemic. In planning the ceremony, she said organizers followed the example of the quarterly awards ceremony put on by the 502nd Air Base Wing, which was done virtually with only the presenters and award winners present. 

“Once we saw them do it virtually, just having the winners there, then it was like, ‘Okay, now we know how we can do this,’” Castro said. 

Castro said she felt it was important to put on the awards ceremony despite the delays, obstacles and challenges put forth because of the pandemic. 

“These people are still worthy of receiving that recognition, even though it might be in a smaller format,” she said. “We still need to celebrate the successes despite this COVID-19 situation.” 

In 2019, 7,267 JBSA members volunteered a total of 246,766 hours to their local community, which came out to a monetary value of $6.7 million. According to the Independent Sector, an organization of nonprofits, foundations and corporations, the estimated value of volunteer time is $27.20 per hour. 

Castro said there is always a need for more volunteers within the JBSA and the local community, including at medical facilities and in units and organizations. She said any JBSA member who wants to explore volunteer opportunities, whether as a way to build their resume, as a way to give back to their military and the local community, or a combination of reasons, can contact her at 210-221-2705. 

Castro said being a volunteer allows military members to become more connected locally, especially if they are newcomers. 

“It’s a great way for people to get established in their community,” she said. “You meet people, so you make those connections.” 

For information on accessing and watching the awards ceremony online, call the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC at 210-221-2705.