Volunteers, dignitaries, and special guests gathered on July 20, 2022, to celebrate the more than 125 Red Cross volunteers who support the community at West Point.
Gregg Porter, Regional Director of Service to the Armed Forces for Greater New York, welcomed everyone. “We are here for one mission today, to honor our Red Cross volunteers who give so much to support this incredibly important institution and military community. Each one of you makes it possible for us to fulfill our vital humanitarian mission of helping our neighbors in need. Your commitment and compassion are the heart of the Red Cross mission here at West Point.”
Metro New York North Chapter CEO, Stephanie Dunn Ashley, praised the work of Red Cross volunteers across West Point, outlining their many roles and contributions.
“Currently, we have 27 Red Cross SAF volunteers working at Keller, supporting its mission, serving at the front desk, the pharmacy, the nutrition department, and more. Additionally, our Red Crossers volunteer their time here at multiple blood drives throughout the year. They work closely with the Morale, Welfare and Recreation personnel to provide support at community outreach events. And, our licensed mental health professional volunteers provide free resiliency workshops, including Psychological First Aid and reconnection workshops for military members, veterans, and their families. Other local events we support includes sharing vital Red Cross information with cadet families during R-Day, Month of the Military Child, and Retiree Appreciation Day.”
Lisa Cooper, MNYN Board Chair, said, “Thank you to all of you who do so much for the American Red Cross. I have volunteered with the American Red Cross for almost 15 years, and I am proud to be here representing our entire Board of Directors, our MNYN staff and all our volunteers as we recognize these dedicated individuals. The outstanding work you do is inspiring, and so important to all we serve.”
Betty Rasmussen Service Award
The Betty Rasmussen Service Award recognizes an individual who has exhibited exceptional devotion to serving the West Point community.
This year’s honoree is Ethel Gaillard, a Red Cross volunteer with the Paws for a Cause Pet Therapy Program since 2015.
Ethie and Zoey are familiar faces at many local libraries and elementary schools representing the Hudson Valley Paws for a Cause. Ethie and her therapy dog Zoey are key supporters of the Army Community Services “Wee Read” Program since its start. This program is designed to have toddlers learn and appreciate dogs and the power of reading. In addition, they are very active in the West Point Elementary School Reading Education Assistance Program, which works children with special needs to help them gain confidence in reading.
Ethie and Zoey also participate at the West Point blood drives, providing stress relief and smiles to the Cadet blood donors.
For her time, energy, and compassion, Ethie is truly deserving of the Betty Rasmussen Service Above Self Award.
Jean MacArthur Volunteer of the Year Award
The Jean MacArthur Volunteer of the Year Award honors an individual who has shown unwavering dedication to the work of the American Red Cross at West Point.
This year’s honoree is Michelle Avecillas, a Red Cross volunteer since summer 2021.
Since last year, Michelle has logged 1,000 volunteer hours at Keller Army Community Hospital. This incredible statistic was recognized earlier this year by the President of the United States when she was awarded the Presidential Volunteer Services Gold award for volunteering more than 500 hours during a calendar year. All of Michelle’s volunteer hours were supporting the mission of the Military Academy and Keller Community Hospital.
Prior to the Joint Commission visit to Keller, Michelle worked on a project in risk management for Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluations. This pertains to providers’ evaluations on a 6-month basis. She used her impressive computer, Excel, and PowerPoint skills to create an Excel worksheet that would automatically notify the involved personnel. After the Joint Commission visit, she assisted Dr. Lawson in Primary Care with data input for flight physicals for Cadets branching Aviation.
Due to the tremendous impacts of her efforts at Keller during the past year, Michelle is truly deserving of the Jean MacArthur Volunteer of the Year Award.
Harriet Demarest Congeniality Award
The Harriet Demarest Congeniality Award recognizes an individual, or individuals, who serve the West Pont community with extraordinary kindness, optimism, and cheerfulness.
This year’s honorees are Kaileen and Alijah Rubang. (not pictured)
Kaileen first started volunteering at the West Point blood drives in 2018. Like many new volunteers, when she first came to the blood drive she was reserved and tentative in her role. But over the past four years, Kaileen has grown in her confidence and willingness to take charge. Volunteers have noted that when Kaileen is on-site, she could run the canteen area by herself. Her energy is boundless and her smile infectious.
Alijah became a Red Cross volunteer in 2019 and has consistently served as a donor escort ever since. He is one of the volunteers that we are always happy to see sign up for shifts at the blood drives. His energetic and hard-working personality are infectious. Alijah takes his role as a donor escort seriously and performs his duties to safely move donors from the donation table to the canteen area. At this year’s March blood drive, an individual that Alijah was escorting started to faint. Alijah did everything correctly and safely guided the donor to the floor. Representatives from Red Cross who were running the drive commented on his quick action to assist the donor.
Gregg Porter closed the event by saying, “As an Army veteran, I am proud to support the West Point mission as a Red Crosser. We at the Red Cross recognize the importance of educating tomorrow’s military leaders and my hope is to continue to strengthen our relationship with the leadership, staff and cadets here at West Point. As it has for more than 140 years, the American Red Cross stands ready to assist our service members in blue skies or gray. Thank you everyone for making this a wonderful event. And Go Army!”
Special guests at the event included: Betsy Gilland, the spouse of Lieutenant General Steven W. Gilland, the 61st Superintendent of West Point; Red Cross Advisor, Melonie Quander, the spouse of Brigadier General Mark Quander, who is the 79th Commandant of Cadets; Mr. Erik Mitchell, Deputy to the Garrison Commander and his spouse Jill; Board Members from the MNYN Chapter Bill Mooney, Andres Moreira, Ted Berenblum, and Greenwich Fire Chief Joe McHugh; and Dr. Joseph Gall, Director of Army Community Services, and a strong supporter of the Red Cross at West Point.
Special thanks to the event planning committee, Andrew Sindell, Anthony Incarnato, Gayle Colacicco, Melonie Quander, Stephanie Dunn Ashley, and Roxana Petzold.
We are grateful to the Red Cross committee members on West Point who keep our programs on track: Gayle Colacicco, Christy Morales, Marlene Medina, Michelle Zupancic, Judy Audevaard and Melonie Quander.
To see more photos from the event visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzZu7Z
To learn more about our work supporting military members, veterans and their families, please visit www.redcross.org/saf