Keesler celebrates top volunteers

  • Published
  • By Susan Griggs
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Some of Keesler's hardest workers don't collect a paycheck. They share their time and talents as volunteers on the base and in the community.

Keesler celebrated National Volunteer Month with a special ceremony to recognize its top volunteers on April 10.

During 2013, Keesler provided more than 180,000 hours of volunteer services with an estimated value of more than $4 million, according to Sandra Brzovic, the base's volunteer program coordinator.

"Keesler volunteers have built strong partnerships with area schools, communities and nonprofit organizations throughout the state of Mississippi," she explained. "During 2013, military personnel, Defense Department civilians, contractors, retirees and their families donated both their time and money, resulting in a positive impact on the quality of life of individuals, the community, and the environment."

Four Keesler volunteers were honored with Volunteer Excellence Awards from the Air Force Chief of Staff for outstanding community service of a sustained, direct and consequential nature. Federal civilians and retirees, family members and military retirees are eligible.

This year's VEA winners include:

Edward Long, a retired senior master sergeant, is a volunteer in the base retiree activities office who is responsible for retiree and veteran disability assistance. He also is the service officer for American Legion Post 42 in Ocean Springs.

Jessica Barattini , Key Spouse for the 338th Training Squadron, is a spokesperson for the Military Saves program, a veteran affairs counselor at the base's VA office, and a volunteer with the airman and family readiness center, Head Start and Girl Scouts. Her husband is Master Sgt. Anthony Barattini, 338th Training Squadron.

David Wood, 403rd Maintenance Squadron, coordinated supply and fundraising efforts for a children's home in the Virgin Islands, attended more than 50 Forgotten Hero services at Biloxi National Cemetery and volunteered with the VA's homeless veteran health care program and recreation activities.

Tracy Reed, a mother of seven who volunteers at the youth center, supported three base soccer teams, mentored homeschool groups, chaperoned an overnight camping trip to Deer Island and organized a fun run that raised $1,000 for tsunami victims. Her husband is Maj. Wallace Reed, 333rd TRS.

Volunteers of the Quarter honored were Patrick Pendergest, formerly of Office of Special Investigations Detachment 407, and David Hopper, 334th TRS, first quarter; Master Sgt. Rebecca Sargent, Mathies NCO Academy, and Inessa Ramsey, airman and family readiness center, second quarter; Airman 1st Class Mikayla Dunne, 81st Dental Squadron, and Usa Jones, 81st Medical Group, third quarter; and Airman 1st Class Deborah Fair, 81st MDG, and Jemina Ballard, 81st Force Support Squadron, fourth quarter.

Other volunteer groups recognized were Key Spouses, youth center, retiree affairs office, Keesler Medical Center, 81st Training Group, American Red Cross, Airman's Attic, Keesler Spouses Club, Airman Against Drunk Driving, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office and the Mathies NCO Academy.