News>WHASC VOLUNTEERS: Ordinary people doing extraordinary things!
Trinidad Garcia and Nate Olech, volunteers at the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, serve cake at the atrium during the National Volunteer Week celebration April 24, 2013, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. A volunteer for more than 30 years, Garcia turns 93 years at the end of May, making her the oldest volunteer at WHASC. Olech is currently 17 years old, making him the youngest volunteer at WHASC. Established in 1974, National Volunteer Week recognizes the impact of volunteerism on America. The week-long event draws the support and endorsement of the president, Congress, governors, mayors and municipal leaders, as well as corporate and community groups across the nation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Harold China)
Trinidad Garcia explains insurance coverage for options for volunteers to Demetris Hardy April 16 at the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Garcia has been a volunteer at the 59th Medical Wing for more than 20 years. Hardy is a WHASC credential specialist. Volunteers at the WHASC were recognized by Maj. Gen. Byron C. Hepburn, 59th MDW commander and director of the San Antonio Medical Health System, during a ceremony held April 24 as a part of National Volunteer Week. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma)
5/3/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Age is only a number at opposite ends of the timeline for two Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center volunteers. The difference in age between Trinidad Garcia, soon to be 93, and Nate Olech, 17, is just that - a number.
Terryca Fuller, WHASC Office of Volunteer Services director, welcomes Garcia's experience and Olech's youthfulness.
"Trinidad is a wealth of knowledge since my assistant and I are fairly new to our jobs," said Fuller, who came to WHASC position last year from the Airman and Family Readiness Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
"She can always tell us how something might work or where to go in the center to find different offices," Fuller said. "She never minds performing the smallest tasks. She's an example of professionalism to both young and old.
"Nate brings a youthful eagerness to learn any aspect of our office and he's very willing to carry out any task given to him."
Garcia and Olech are bound not only as volunteers but by the Air Force and their desire to help others. Garcia is a retired Air Force NCO, a World War II veteran and a WHASC volunteer for more than 20 years. She has also been honored with a Volunteer Excellence Award from the Air Force Chief of Staff.
Olech is the son of an active-duty Air Force major, a pharmacist assigned to WHASC. The home-schooled teenager, a high school junior, has planned out his future. It includes becoming a psychiatrist and joining the Air Force.
A WHASC volunteer since January, Olech also has an impressive accomplishment: achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts of America. He was 16 years old when he became an Eagle Scout, a level accomplished by only one in 100 who enters scouting.
Both Garcia and Olech have a wry, playful sense of humor.
"Nate has a great sense of humor that keeps all of us laughing," Fuller said. "He loves to talk with Miss Trinidad about her military and lifetime experiences."
"Miss Trinidad is hilarious," said Olech. "It's been a lot of fun; she's probably the most fun person I've ever talked to. She has many great stories. It's a kind of different spectrum because there's 75 years between us."
Then Olech's humor came out. "I guess we get along because she hasn't decked me yet," he said.
Garcia said being a volunteer "keeps my mind busy. I've got to be busy."
Her dedication and passion as a volunteer jump out immediately. However, her ability to relate life experiences and also make light of a situation or herself like a standup comedian also endears her to others.
- On why she volunteers: "I don't like soap operas."
- On her age: "You know, I'm going to be 93. Do I look 93?" Told no, she quips back "How old do I look?"
- On how being a volunteer keeps her young: "I guess so. But I'll tell you a secret. Talking to seniors bores me. I live in a retirement community and you have to be at least 55. The people I associate with there are those young ones."
- On her office duties: "I do a little bit of everything. But right now I'm at a standstill. I have macular degeneration in my left eye, my hearing is bad, my knee hurts and I have a walker. I tell you, I'm falling apart."
- On office errands: "I do errands. Even though my knee hurts, I just take one step at a time - I don't give up. Of course when I do errands, it takes me forever and a
- On giving up driving: "I gave it up seven years ago. When I started seeing double, the doctor told me to give up driving or before I knew it, I'd be pushing up daisies. When I gave up my car, oh, did I cry! But I didn't want to push up daisies."
Olech said he feels a little pressure from family, friends and "Miss Trinidad" to set a good example.
"My brother's 14 and almost an Eagle Scout, so he understands; my sister's only six years old," said Olech.
Then, without skipping a beat, he quipped, "she's only 4 feet tall so she has to look up to us."
Olech then turned serious, speaking words of wisdom beyond his years.
"Being a volunteer here and helping people is awesome," he said. "You do it because you want to, not because you have to."