ACSC earns award for volunteerism

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

4/27/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The River Region thanked the Air University's Air Command and Staff College for its dedication to volunteerism by naming the 2012 class volunteer of the year, adult group category.

"For me it was a real treat to get my classmates recognized," said Maj. Birma Gonzalez, who nominated her class.

The Volunteer and Information Center Inc. and the Junior League of Montgomery distributed awards to seniors, adults, youth and groups in the River Region April 17 at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Montgomery.

"Our communities are indeed better, much better, because of your efforts," said Camilla Prince, executive director of the Volunteer and Information Center, of the 49 nominees.

ACSC won in the adult group category over nine other nominees. Part of the award included a $200 donation to a charity, and the students chose the Montgomery Area Food Bank.

This year's class, featuring 514 civilians, Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and international officers, volunteered more than 5,300 hours since August, supported 14 charity events and raised $118,000.

"I am very proud of the class of 2012 Air Command and Staff College students for showing so much commitment to helping others," said Brig. Gen. Stephen Denker, ACSC commandant. "Their efforts, always given in the true spirit of volunteerism, show their heartfelt desire to give back to the community, and this award from the River Region recognizes the strong ties between Maxwell military members and the community."

They placed second in the Montgomery Dragon Boat Race and raised $2,500 for Rebuilding Together Central Alabama.

The students also organized a Big Brother/Big Sister run, hosted a Red Cross blood drive and collected gifts for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program.

"The students don't even have to be asked to volunteer. They do it because they care. They want to leave the community knowing they made a difference," said Lt. Col. Dane Christensen, commander of 21st Student Squadron. "It's in their nature. They're extremely competitive and they don't leave things to chance. If they see a need, they step up and ask, 'How can I make that person's day a little better?'"

Though the class has shown support as a group, Gonzalez said it is important to recognize the efforts of individual students. "They're humble and selfless," she said.

For example, Maj. Pat Snyder provides free yoga classes for the Family Sunshine Center, which serves victims of family violence. He also accepted donations, collecting more than $500.

Maj. Mary Carnes organized volunteer efforts for Montgomery's commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and hosted a charity auction.

Richard Haycock has logged more than 100 volunteer hours, and Maj. Kevin Lord organized a 5K fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

"What makes me most proud of my classmates is that most have served in combat zones. Some are geographically separated from their families while they attend ACSC. All have completed challenging midterm and final exams while writing research papers," Gonzalez wrote in her nomination. "Yet even with these competing demands, they continue to give time and resources because they are proud to be part of what we like to call 'the best hometown in the Air Force.'"