***image1******image2***At first, Chelle Kakac was stunned, and then joyful when it became apparent that she was the 415th Base Support Battalion’s 2003/2004 Volunteer of Distinction.
“Wow! I’m overwhelmed and shocked. It’s too cool,” said Mrs. Kakac, a community volunteer who was named the 415th BSB 2003/2004 Volunteer of Distinction at the Volunteer Appreciation Banquet held Thursday at the Armstrong Community Club, Vogelweh Housing.
Honoring with “Oscar” style, the banquet was truly “The Night of Volunteer Stars,” treating Mrs. Kakac and 11 Volunteer Champions as the stars they are to the KMC.
“Military communities really need volunteers,” said Katie Bell, wife of U.S. Army Europe Commander, Gen. B.B. Bell, and the volunteer banquet’s guest speaker. “We have dwindling resources and bigger missions, and our communities could not exist without the fabulous volunteers we have. There’s no way.”
As one of those fabulous volunteers, Mrs. Kakac donated more than 400 hours at various organizations throughout the KMC.
She established the Family Readiness Group for the 181st Signal Company’s Landstuhl Satellite Station, 43rd Signal Battalion, Heidelberg. She has been this FRG’s leader for two years, meeting the needs of more than 150 military families.
“She has impacted so many lives, not only with her FRG, which is so blessed to have her, but also everyone in the KMC has really been touched by her volunteer work,” said Jackie Naumchik, FRG adviser for the 43rd Signal Battalion, and who nominated Mrs. Kakac for the 2003/2004 Volunteer of Distinction. “The depth and breadth of her volunteer work is just amazing.”
For Mrs. Kakac, being involved in the FRG is something that she truly believed in because it gives new Army spouses something to lean on when they are away from home.
“I would want support if I were a new spouse in the military and away from home for the first time,” said Mrs. KaKac, a mother of twins, Courtney and Chelsea, 7, and son, John-Michael, 3. “And, I want to be that person that somebody else can come to if they need help.”
Her husband, Sgt. 1st Class John Kakac, NCO in charge, Landstuhl Satellite Communication Station, 181st Signal Company, said that her work with the FRG is really important to military communities.
“It keeps coming back to the fact that there are more than 50,000 Americans here working hard, and everybody has a relative who is not here,” he said. “She brings them a sense of family, and I’m very proud of her.”
Mrs. Kakac learned sign language a year-and-half ago and since then, she has assisted in the creation of KMC’s first Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Support Group and a Sign Language Club that meets every Tuesday. Through her work with these two organization, her daughter’s teacher asked her to teach sign language to second-graders at the Ramstein American Elementary School.
“I love teaching the kids. They just think it is so cool and it is,” said Mrs. Kakac. “I plan to get involved with the deaf community wherever I end up.”
The Volunteer of Distinction also impacted KMC’s daily life as an Advisory Committee representative at RAES, Sunday school teacher at Ramstein Northside Chapel, Ramstein Parish Council parish council member and Army Family Action Plan volunteer.