38 members of Team Kadena recognized for selfless volunteerism Published May 8, 2008 By Staff Sgt. Christopher A. Marasky 18th Wing Public Affairs KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Kadena recognized the outstanding volunteers for 2007 during the annual volunteer ceremony May 1. The ceremony honored 38 individuals and three units in five different volunteer categories. It came at the end of National Volunteer Week, which is time set aside to honor the people who donate their time and energy to improve the lives of others "There is no doubt that the spirit of volunteerism is alive and well here on Kadena," said Col. Max Kirschbaum, 18th Mission Support Group commander. The members of Team Kadena donated a lot of time in 2007 --almost 141,000 hours-- to the base and the surrounding community, saving the base nearly $2.2 million in manpower hours. One of the largest events, the 2007 Special Olympics, drew 2,500 volunteers who donated 20,000 hours to promote friendship with the local Okinawan community and to embrace special needs athletes. Throughout the evening, all of the nominees were awarded certificates as thanks for their volunteerism, and a number of individuals were awarded the Outstanding Volunteer Award, which recognizes an individual who has gone above and beyond to enhance the quality of life in the Kadena community through their volunteer actions. One of the major individual awards was the Volunteer Excellence Award, which was awarded to Ms. Lisi Blake, who for the last three years has planned and coordinated food preparation for the monthly deployed spouses dinners, as well as coordinating child-care for the event. She has also served as a readiness assistance volunteer, Girl Scout "Cookie Mom" and devoted much of her time to activities at Stearley Heights Middle School. The VEA is a lifetime achievement award, and can only be won once. The other major award was the Team Kadena Volunteer Warrior of the Year Award, which was presented to Tech. Sgt. Bruce Mims from the 18th Equipment Maintenance Squadron. Sergeant Mims supported 31 base and community events in 2007 which contributed to the success and safety of fund raisers, projects and celebrations at Stearley Heights Middle School, Bob Hope Primary School, Kadena Middle School and the Niko-Niko Child Development Center. He also participated in a number of base events such as Operation Skoshi Warrior, Operation Pumpkin Patrol and Operation Warm Heart. "I'm just one of several thousand people across this base who volunteer their time on a regular basis to the community," he said. "I'm honored to receive this award." The final award for the evening was the Outstanding Volunteer Unit award, which Maj. Christopher Iriarte, 18th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, accepted on behalf of his squadron. The unit award is used to honor the unit that volunteered either in the local civilian community or the military family community, and the volunteer services must be significant in character, produce tangible results and reflect favorably on the United States Air Force. "I'm just really proud of my unit and I'm glad that we were able to positively contribute to the overall effort," said Major Iriarte. "This is a validation of a lot of hard work for us, but I'm also very impressed with everything that everyone else has done." At the conclusion of the ceremony, Col. Manson Morris, 18th Wing vice commander took the opportunity to thank the volunteers, and Team Kadena for their continued effort. "Without their contributions, life would be much different for us here on Okinawa," he said. "I would like to say thank you to all the volunteers that make such a difference in our lives."