April 25, 2006 — Volunteers in the V.I. Family Readiness Program, who've done everything from cutting grass to saying a few kind words, received recognition for their efforts during a ceremony Tuesday evening that was part of National Volunteer Week. "When a wife who is left behind thinks she's at her wit's end, here come the volunteers," said Brig. Gen. Eddy L. Charles.
The group, which supports the families of National Guard members, has close to 150 volunteers in the territory supporting the 145 deployed V.I. National Guard members.
There are 55 volunteers from the St. Thomas – St. John district.
Volunteers from St. Croix were recognized in a ceremony Monday. (See "Guard Volunteers Honored During Ceremony").
Tuesday evening's ceremony, in the Distance Learning Center at the Leonard B. Francis Armory on St. Thomas, drew about 30 of those volunteers.
Charles said Carnival activities and the related heavy traffic in Charlotte Amalie may have prevented more volunteers from attending the ceremony.
Nonetheless, Charles said the volunteer movement in the territory is very strong. Family Readiness Program volunteers support guard members' children, help with yard work, prepare meals and provide emotional support for military families.
"It was good they decided to recognize us," said Corina Thomas, a volunteer for six years. Thomas' husband is a retiree of the National Guard. "I love what I'm doing," she said.
The ceremony included a prayer and messages from senior officials in the Army and Air Force.
"These volunteers are unsung heroes who help us complete our mission and who merit our appreciation every day," U.S. Army Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum said in a memo for family program directors.
Charles also thanked the volunteers as a group before giving out certificates of appreciation and volunteer lapel pins. As each volunteer's name was called, other volunteers clapped and called out words of encouragement.
Charles said the National Guard members "wouldn't be able to focus on their mission" without volunteers taking care of things at home. That ability to remain focused helps keep them safe.
Wednesday, volunteers stationed near Fort Christian on St. Thomas will be accepting financial contributions to help send packages off to deployed V.I. National Guard members. Charles commended volunteers who have already sent packages to deployed V.I. National Guard members.
"It is a feeling out of this world to receive a box of goodies from home," he said.
For more information on volunteering, call 712-7787.
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