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Four Keesler volunteers win Air Force award
Ed Guardanapo, 81st Medical Group volunteer services; Caesar Purnell, retiree activities office; Dr. Carl Nehlig, 333rd Training Squadron, and Juanna Lyons, 81st MDG volunteer services, are Keesler’s Volunteer Excellence Award Winners for 2013. The winners were recognized during a ceremony May 7, 2013, at the Sablich Center, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adam Bond)
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Four Keesler volunteers win Air Force award

Posted 5/9/2013   Updated 5/9/2013 Email story   Print story


by Susan Griggs
81st Training Wing Public Affairs

5/9/2013 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- "A volunteer is a person who can see what others cannot see; who can feel what most do not feel. Often, such gifted persons do not think of themselves as volunteers, but as citizens - citizens in the fullest sense: partners in civilization."

Those words from the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush, resound in the accomplishments of the military members, civilians, contractors, retirees and family members honored at the base's annual volunteer recognition ceremony May 7 at Sablich Center.

Keesler volunteer coordinator Sandra Brzovic said that in 2012, Keesler volunteers contributed more than 178,476 hours of volunteer service at an estimated value of nearly $3.9 million. She noted that the strong partnerships built with local schools, communities, youth sports and nonprofit organizations have had a positive impact on the quality of life of individuals, communities and the environment.

"Our volunteers can take credit for the success of events such as Child Pride Day, Special Olympics, Operation Hero, Homeless Veterans' Stand Down, beach cleanups and fundraising walks for the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and March of Dimes," Brzovic pointed out.

"Keesler volunteers have supported our local schools as science fair judges, test proctors and mentors," she added. "They've visited nursing homes, assisted local hospice agencies and responded to elderly neighbors who need help. Others have supported Toys for Tots and community food kitchens."

Four longtime Keesler volunteers were recognized with the Air Force Chief of Staff Volunteer Excellence Award. The honor is presented to federal civilians, family members, and military and federal retirees who perform outstanding volunteer community service of a sustained and direct nature.

This year's VEA winners are:

Caesar Purnell, a retired Army master sergeant, has volunteered in the retiree activities office to assist other retirees applying for VA disability benefits. He is the service officer for American Legion Post 42 in Ocean Springs and volunteers with his church and the Veterans Affairs Service Center.

Carl Nehlig, 333rd Training Squadron, is president of the Biloxi Lions Club. He developed and chaired numerous fundraisers for the Lions, including a 5-kilometer walk to raise awareness about diabetes, and organized the donation of more than 1,200 pairs of glasses for a Keesler medical mission to Chile in 2012.

Ed Guardanapo, 81st Medical Group volunteer, has contributed 400 hours a year in Keesler's main and satellite pharmacies and has devoted 150 hours annually to handle filing in the physical therapy clinic. He created and implemented a new policy adopted by the flight that reduced misfiling errors.

Juanna Dawn Lyons, another 81st MDG volunteer, also serves as a tutor and fundraiser at a local elementary school. She has worked with Morning Star Pregnancy Care Center in Gulfport, the American Red Cross, Loaves and Fishes community soup kitchen in Biloxi and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

The 81st Training Wing's quarterly volunteer award recipients also were honored, along with special group recognition for volunteers from the base's retiree activities office, medical center, 81st Training Group, American Red Cross, Airman's Attic, youth center, Airmen Against Drunk Driving, sexual assault victim advocates, airman and family readiness center, voting office, Keesler Spouses Club and Keesler Key Spouses.

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