MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Marine Corps Community Services hosted a luncheon at the Club Iwakuni ballroom here April 22 to recognize and thank local volunteers for their efforts in and around the community here.
Approximately 250 station residents who volunteered their time and efforts to local community projects here and across Japan attended the luncheon.
Col. James C. Stewart, station commanding officer, attended the event to help recognize the station volunteers.
“Those who have worked for me or worked with me know that I have three priorities,” said Stewart. “Accomplish the mission, take care of each other and have fun. What we gathered here to do today is to celebrate a group, a large group of people by distribution, who embody exactly that. (These volunteers) take care of the mission; take care of each other, our families, our children, our host and our countrymen.”
Within the past year, more than 858 station residents have volunteered approximately 40,000 hours to local community projects. Stewart estimated if he were to pay the volunteers minimum wage for those hours, it would add up to around $300,000.
“In looking at those 858, that is one in five aboard an air station of 4,600 people (who have given their time to volunteer work),” said Stewart. “That is impressive. That is the spirit of giving.”
The volunteers who were recognized during the luncheon gave their time to community relation projects in and around the local community; did volunteer work at the schools here or volunteered as coaches during children’s sporting events. Station residents who gave to support Operation Tomodachi were also recognized during the luncheon.
Stewart said he wanted to give his most heartfelt thanks to everyone who has given so much to help the community here and across Japan through their efforts in Operation Tomodachi.
Many of the organizations here were grateful to have the opportunity to thank the volunteers for their selfless service to the community.
John Iwaniec, MCCS director, was present during the luncheon to offer his thanks to the volunteers.
“It’s important to recognize people; to let people know that their efforts don’t go without being (noticed) by us,” said Iwaniec. “A lot of times, leadership, we get caught in the daily running of things, taking care of administrative functions; but we know that those volunteers are out there.”
Iwaniec said he is thankful for all the volunteers and for those people he believes volunteer in silence and behind the scenes that go without the recognition they deserve.
Many of the volunteers who attended the luncheon did not expect to be thanked and were surprised by the event.
“I thought the luncheon was very nice of them,” said Sgt. Anne M. Laha, station Installation Personnel Administration Center office of management and budget staff noncommissioned officer in charge. “I wasn’t expecting them to do anything. I didn’t think it was going to be something that nice.”
Laha volunteers her time to monthly community relation projects visiting children’s schools outside the air station. She has been stationed here since February 2009 and has volunteered to visit the schools nearly every month since she’s been here.
Laha said she enjoys volunteering and does it simply because she likes to do it without expecting thanks, but appreciates the recognition.
Anyone wishing to volunteer in community relations projects can contact their unit family readiness officer or visit the station chapel for information.