USO Courtney Volunteer of the Quarter (Winter 2014): Andres J. Galindo
Name: Andres J. Galindo
Location: Camp Courtney USO
Occupation: Navy Federal Credit Union
When did you first begin volunteering with the USO?
29 September 2014
How did you hear about us and what made you want to get involved with the USO?
USO Courtney was launching their new facility and I met with Henry Hughes who encouraged me to sign up. He explained to me the importance of getting a new facility on its feet and helped me realize how important it was to have a home away from home where our military members and families could come in, take a load off, have somewhere to relax, call loved ones and to have resources available to them that are not available elsewhere.
How has your experience been so far?
My experience so far has been very positive. It has made me passionate about how important it is to do my best to keep those doors open and to do whatever I can to help drive traffic into the center I volunteer at. USO Okinawa has a great team of both volunteers and staff who are nice, friendly and go above and beyond to promote the brand within the community on almost all camps.
What have you found as your greatest strength as a volunteer?
Being able to interact with guests who enter the center and to make everyone feel comfortable as possible. In my time volunteering, I have met some great people and made friendships that will go beyond my time here in Okinawa. Also, my greatest strength is being able to come onboard as a volunteer, analyze opportunities and to then partner with management and get a program started from the ground in a quick manner.
What keeps you coming back?
The nice facility, the wonderful guests and other volunteers keep me coming back. I quickly understood how important it is to have a center here overseas where it can be mentally stressful and taxing. I come back to be there for those individuals who depend on us.
Do you have an inspirational story you can briefly tell us about?
This past Thanksgiving was a very different meal to prepare for and have. Without our families and loved ones here on island, I know it can be just another day to a lot of the unaccompanied military members. My wife works with a lot of peers who are unaccompanied and to make most of the holiday we decided to host 12 people over to our house to share a Thanksgiving together. During my conversations with our guests they repeatedly thanked us for having them over. What I did not know is that most our guests had had no other plans for the special day and were going to spend the holiday alone in their barracks. It made that day more special that we were able to get them out of their rooms and together as a “family.”
Fun Fact about yourself:
-To share my experiences in Japan, I make short YouTube videos to share with friends and family.
-I love sneakers so much I have camped out six times to try a snag a pair for my collection.
-I have a fondness of ducks. I once had a pet duck that I ended up donating to an outdoor learning center in Texas. His name was Ducky.