Kaprece James, a volunteer for the American Red Cross at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in California, has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. President George W. Bush personally bestowed the honor on James at a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House this morning.
The President recognized military spouses dedicated to hands-on volunteer service. Mrs. James’ husband, Second Lieutenant Rodney James, is a Marine, currently serving in Iraq. President Bush said:
We honor a Marine wife named Kaprece James. Kaprece has been married for two years to Second Lieutenant Rodney James. She's living at her first duty station—the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twenty-Nine Palms. She has been a force of nature since she's arrived. When she moved on the base, Kaprece immediately began volunteering with the American Red Cross. She's assisted with more than a hundred Red Cross communications messages that have provided our deployed service members with notification or assistance in emergency situations. Kaprece developed the first year-round Youth Leadership Program on base to help young people learn from professional -- learn professional leadership and interviewing skills. She raised funds for a program that will allow young people to assemble 500 disaster kits for enlisted service members and their families. She developed a special newsletter for distribution to 250 families of deployed personnel. And on top of all that, she serves as a cheerleading coach for the children of Marines and civilian personnel on base. Whew. (Laughter.)
James has been volunteering nonstop since she was seven year old. That was nearly two decades ago. “My life is not complete without being able to do nonprofit work,” James says. “People ask me what I do for fun. I answer: ‘I help people.’”
New last fall to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, James began looking for volunteer opportunities. At her prior home in Georgia, James was training to become a disaster volunteer through the partnership between the American Red Cross and the NAACP, so she went to the Red Cross office to continue that training.
James learned that Red Cross stations located on military facilities do not train disaster responders—but there is an awful lot of other work to do. She dove right in to the tasks at hand.
She accepted the volunteer leadership position of American Red Cross station chair. It has been a whirlwind ever since.
The Red Cross station is especially busy because all units go through the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center before deployment. A Red Cross team of volunteers and employees issues all the needed emergency communications. On one particularly full day the station staff handled nine emergencies.
Building youth volunteer leadership is a priority for James. She received a grant from the American Red Cross in January to develop a strong youth program at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. It is the first time the American Red Cross has awarded a youth development grant to a military station. She now has a small group of committed youth volunteers. Six youth are traveling with James to the National Youth Institute in St. Louis this spring, where the young volunteers will receive Red Cross specific and general leadership and professional development training.
The full text of the Remarks by the President commemorating Military Spouse Day, and a video of the ceremony, are available on the White House Web site.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization – not a government agency – and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.