ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve recognized the 2018 Volunteers of the Year (VOTY) during the National Leadership Meeting Nov. 15.
Volunteers who serve in following functional and operational areas were nominated by their respective State Committee for the prestigious honor of being named Volunteer of the Year: Military Outreach, Employer Outreach, Public Affairs, Training, Ombudsman, and Operational.
The Functional and Operational Area Volunteer of the Year (VOTY) Award is a national level ESGR award established to recognize those volunteers who have made significant contributions in ESGR’s primary functional and operational areas during the previous fiscal year.
This year’s recipients are:
Employer Outreach – Caryl Hill, Texas
Military Outreach – Don Morrow, Arkansas
Public Affairs – Patrick Morrissey, California
Public Affairs – Shereen Grouby, Virgin Islands
Ombudsman – Tom Rendon, Texas
Training – Phil Stage, California
Operational – Roland Keller, Texas
These outstanding volunteers alone delivered a nearly 2,700 hours of volunteer service. That's the equivalent of 66 weeks, or 1 year, and three and a half months of labor! Based on the current value of a “volunteer hour” that's a return on investment worth approximately $66,000!
ESGR, a Department of Defense program, seeks to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States. ESGR develops and promotes supportive work environments for Service members in the Reserve Components through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. It also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers. To learn more about ESGR, part of the Defense Personnel and Family Support Center, visit www.ESGR.mil.
Volunteers of the Year Citations
PUBLIC AFFAIRS VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Shereen Grouby, United States Virgin Islands
Shereen Grouby embodies the spirit of volunteerism. In addition to serving as the public affairs director, she also served as the volunteer support coordinator. She is a member of the New Chair Selection Committee and the State Committee Selection Board. As the public affairs director, she was instrumental in enhancing the ESGR brand in the Virgin Islands by issuing press releases and photos following Briefings with the Boss, Employer Recognition Dinners, Statements of Supporting signings and Patriot Award presentations. Her outstanding performance resulted in numerous articles been published in online and print publications. This outstanding volunteer ensured that the USVI ESGR Facebook page and state page were kept current and postings were timely, especially when, during the fiscal year, the Virgin Islands were devastated by two Category 5 hurricanes. Despite the devastation, Shereen was able to balance her volunteer work, family and recovery effort.
Patrick Morrissey, California
Patrick Morrissey is an exceptional PA Director and area chair in California. Patrick wrote and implemented a public affairs plan that has strengthened our internal and external stakeholders’ awareness and support which resulted in improving in all aspects of our mission. He established a “Speakers Bureau” and recruited nine volunteers to participate. He helped coordinated the PA effort for our national “Navy Employer Recognition Event” conducted in Jun ’18 for 120 employers as well as creating statewide awareness of our Pro Patria ceremonies. To enhance PA collaboration Patrick participated in the California National Guard and Navy Region Southwest PA seminars gaining invaluable insights and support from these Ready Reserve commands. Patrick’s social media postings for ESGR programs on Facebook and Twitter literally occur daily and sometimes multiple times each day. Patrick Morrissey maintains a comprehensive public affairs data base with over 800 contacts that he leverages to distribute a monthly news update on California ESGR activities.
EMPLOYER OUTREACH VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Caryl Hill, Texas
Caryl Hill, a member since 2002, former Employer Outreach Director, and an Area Chair since 2010. As San Antonio’s Area Chair (i.e. Military City USA ©), she represents ESGR with 501(c)(3) organizations and employer military advisory committees. Caryl volunteered to host 30 Central Region Employer and Military Outreach Directors/Headquarters representatives at a March 2018 San Antonio meeting. Through her employer contacts, she booked the hotel, made all arrangements, and worked with the Texas Committee Chair to use state committee money to fund meeting support locations and logistical support. Caryl even got San Antonio’s Chamber of Commerce to host an evening meeting mixer, where she invited 50 employers, 3 past Freedom Award recipients, Reserve general officers, and 15 local ESGR members who attended. Headquarters ESGR said the meeting was “exceptional…the standard for future Regional meetings”! She mentored three San Antonio employers to 2018 Pro Patria Awards, one was also 2018 Freedom Award Semi-Finalist!
OPERATIONAL VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Roland Keller, Texas
In FY2018, Roland was our Committee’s “utility infielder” (for all MLB fans), and his “stats” are All-Star. Our Military Outreach Director was “benched” for six-months for major emergency surgery, and Roland stepped-up as our Acting MO Director. In Area 4, he spearheaded events serving over 2000 service members along with numerous outreach events. Serving our current OMB Director, Roland is our state’s “designed hitter” (MLB analogy continued), and is constantly called upon for his USERRA expertise by rank-and-file members, and OMBs alike. He’s still the state’s recognized Employer Initiative Program expert, and conceived/created/maintained MilCityUSA.com for 5 yrs. This site brought together San Antonio employers, mil job seekers, and vet service orgs (federal/state/local) all on one site. Roland is well-connected throughout San Antonio, and represents ESGR on Fort Sam’s Retiree Council, the Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Council, SA’s “Celebrate America’s Military” Council, and the Valero’s Military Affairs Committee just to name a few. Bottom line, if an ESGR activity is happening in America’s 7th largest city, Mr. Keller is probably involved!
MILITARY OUTREACH VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Don Morrow, Arkansas
An Arkansas state chair emeritus, Don Morrow has been the Military Outreach Director since 2013. He set up and conducted state-wide Military Outreach Coordinator training/planning sessions and established our “Adopt an Armory” program. Due to his leadership, guidance and follow-up our "military influenced" went from 4,951 in FY13 to over 10,000 in FY18. This represents over 85% of our total Reserve component members in the state! Don Morrow works tirelessly in his quest and dedicates hundreds of hours a year to the MO program to include briefing SMs during drill weekend every month. Don has chaired the HQ ESGR Diversity Working Group and served on the Outreach Subcommittee where he has also dedicated many additional hours to improving the quality of other state committees throughout our entire organization. He is a tremendous asset and a great example of what everyone would want in a volunteer.
OMBUDSMAN VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Tom Rendon, Texas
Despite some significant military service-connected health challenges, Tom Rendon has continued to volunteer with our Texas SC doing what he does best…answering Service Member and employer USERRA questions and handling the formal Service member inquiries/cases. In the past year, Tom handled six (6) formal USERRA cases. This may not seem like many to other states, but Texas only had 96 formal USERRA cases in FY2018 to share among our 30 active ombudsmen to maintain their currency. Therefore, Tom handled almost twice as many cases as our state average. Tom has also been very active in the Military and Employer outreach areas with USERRA. While his medical challenges prevent him from driving an automobile, Tom accompanied his Area Chair across southeastern Texas making presentations to USAR, ARNG, USCGR, USNR and USMCR units during annual training events, as well as several Family Days and Employer Appreciation Days. Tom Rendon is a great example of someone who rises above their personal challenges to serve others.
TRAINING VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Phil Stage, California
Phil Stage is an exceptional trainer. Although an extremely busy volunteer he always takes time out of his schedule to help anyone who needs training assistance or mentorship. Phil earned the respect of his peers and is well known to all Ready Reserve leaders for his innovative programs and capacity to inspire and train their members on the value of ESGR programs. Phil wrote, staffed, and facilitated the coordination of a Letter of Intent that will establish a pilot program between USAR’s 63rd Readiness Command and CA ESGR Committee. The result will be a dedicated and habitually assigned ESGR team consisting of 68 volunteers promoting ESGR programs in the Army Reserve. These concepts and plans were developed as a product of his experience, communication skills and ability to share complex concepts with senior leaders. Phil instructs at Annual Planning and Awards Meetings, Area Volunteer Training, and Executive Council meetings. He also mentors new leaders and volunteers while performing as an Ombudsmen and delivering Patriot Awards.