Kentucky Guard hosts 2011 National volunteer workshop

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Story by:  Staff Sgt. Fredrick P. Varney, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

USO Homefront Concert

Attendees from the National Volunteer Workshop on their way to see Montgomery Gentry in the first ever USO Homefront Concert. More than 1,400 volunteers were given VIP treatment at the concert.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (July 26, 2011) – Volunteers from every state and territory in the nation were in attendance for the 2011 National Guard Family Programs National Volunteer Workshop hosted by the Kentucky National Guard July 25th-27th at the Galt House in Louisville.

The National Volunteer Workshop affords National Guard family volunteers the opportunity to exchange ideas and consider best practices in assisting Soldiers and their families.  The workshop also provides senior Department of Defense, National Guard Bureau, and State and Territory leadership the opportunity to interact with volunteers from each State and Territory.

As a part of the National Workshop, the National Guard Bureau recognizes special achievements by National Guard Family Program volunteers who demonstrate outstanding dedication and commitment to family programs.  Various awards include Guard Family of the Year, Extra Mile Awards, and Regional Family Members of the Year Awards.

Joseph Kelly and his family are volunteers for the Massachusetts Survivor Outreach Services Office.  On June 8, 2005, Kelly’s son Michael Kelly made the ultimate sacrifice for our country while deployed to Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terrorism.  After the tremendous loss of their hero, Michael’s sister Colleen started working on reform for the Family Readiness Program in Massachusetts.  The family is also involved with the New England Troop Supporters Program, a foundation that sends care packages to troops overseas.USO Homefront Concert

“The National Volunteer Workshop has been a very wonderful learning experience,” said Kelly.

“We are developing the necessary tools that will assist us in helping other Soldiers and families within our great state of Massachusetts.  Maj. Gen. Joseph Carter has been very supportive of our family.  It’s truly a great honor to be formally recognized by the National Guard Bureau as the Guard Family of the Year.”

The three day conference began with the 375th Running of the National Guard Derby.  Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, adjutant general of Kentucky, and his staff designed a horse racing simulator for the volunteers.  The simulator allowed participants of the workshop to experience a virtual Kentucky Derby.

“The opening night of the workshop was amazing,” said Brig. Gen. John E. Walsh, adjutant general for the state of Montana.

“General Tonini and his staff provided a very organized and creative National Workshop for the family volunteers.  The opening night set the tone for my family because our horse managed to win the 375th Running of the National Guard Derby.  Monday’s conference was very informative and the break out sessions has been top-notch in terms of new innovative ideas for helping Soldiers and their families.”

Vermont native Mary Small, winner of the Family Member of the Year Award for Region One, said the workshop offered a vast variety of knowledge for volunteers.

USO Homefront Concert

“The workshop from beginning to end was extremely professional and informative.  The Bluegrass State should be proud of everything accomplished here in Louisville this week.”

The National Volunteer Workshop concluded with Kentucky’s own Montgomery Gentry performing in the KFC YUM! Center in the USO Homefront Concert.  The event was free to all family volunteers and Soldiers attending the workshop.

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