Patricia M. Barron
Director, AUSA Family Programs
The Association of the United States Army Family Programs Directorate has selected Capt. William Mendelsohn and family, 224th Sustainment Brigade, California Army National Guard, to receive the 2012 AUSA Volunteer Family of the Year Award.
The award will be presented at the opening session of the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition, Monday, Oct. 22, at 9:30 a.m., in the main ballroom of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
AUSA congratulates Mendelsohn, his wife, Debra, and their two children, Emelie and Douglas, "for their outstanding contributions to their military and civilian communities."
Capt. Mendelsohn sets a high standard for public service and volunteerism as he has served for over 25 years as a mentor, leader and trainer for the Boy Scouts of America.
Additionally, he has served as a Cub Scout den leader for his son’s pack and assistant scoutmaster for the past four and a half years.
When he was deployed to Iraq in 2011, he made arrangements to attend a scout meeting via Skype.
He briefed the boys on the challenges that deployed soldiers face, inspired their continued progress on rank advancement, and maintained his bond with the scout troop.
He fully supports and encourages his Family Readiness Group’s (FGR) volunteer activities and shared in the pride as the 224th Sustainment Brigade’s FRG was awarded the Adjutant General’s Award for Excellence in Family Readiness.
Debra Mendelsohn has positively impacted the lives of soldiers and their families as well through her volunteerism. She is an active California National Guard (CNG) Family Readiness volunteer, serving as one of the lead volunteers for the Army component of the guard.
During her husband’s deployment to Iraq, she also served as the battalion FRG Leader for his unit where she supported over 300 families.
Debra was recognized twice by the AUSA’s Greater Los Angeles Chapter with Volunteer of the Year appreciation awards.
She also received the U.S. Army Quartermaster Regiment’s Catherine Greene Award, the Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Public Service, the Department of the Army Achievement Medal for Civilian Service and the California Commendation Medal, among others.
Debra volunteers as a member for the chapter’s Executive Board where she currently serves on the Army Ball Planning Committee.
Along with her children, she also founded the Claremont Heroes Military Appreciation Program where she raised over $45,000 in community donations to fund a banner program recognizing the service of active duty personnel and veterans in Claremont, Calif.
Over the past decade, Debra has also served as a Little League Team mom, Girl Scout Leader, Cub Scout Den Leader and a member of her synagogue’s Board of Trustees.
The Mendelsohn children are also involved in numerous activities.
Emelie, 17, has worked with her mom at various FRG functions to support soldiers and families.
During her dad’s deployment to Iraq, Emelie recruited friends to help secure donations of supplies and set up a craft booth during the unit holiday party where she entertained children of deployed soldiers.
Last year, she volunteered over 250 hours on productions at her high school theater earning a slot in the Thespian Honor Society.
She volunteered in the "Best Buds" program serving as a mentor for physically and mentally challenged Claremont High School students.
Emelie has also earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award in recognition of her leadership and community service.
In 2005, Emeilie was named the City of Claremont’s Community Hero for her volunteer work in establishing a community-based military appreciation program.
Douglas, 15, earned his Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts in 2011, overseeing a community service project incorporating over 291 hours of volunteer service to build an Israeli dodge ball court at Temple Beth Israel in Pomona, Calif.
He was selected to represent the Boy Scouts of America as a member of the 2012 Tournament of Roses Honor Troop where he escorted a wounded warrior, J. R. Martinez , in the Tournament of Roses Parade. He also volunteers as a bugler at a variety of scouting and community programs.
For his bar mitzvah community service project, Douglas raised over $1,500 for holiday care packages for deployed service members, in addition to donating children’s books and cash to support USO’s United Through Reading Program.
In 2005, Douglas was named the Claremont Community Hero for his work establishing the Claremont Heroes military appreciation program.
The Mendelsohns show a generosity of spirit and dedication that makes them model representatives for our Army volunteer community. You truly exemplify "Family Strong – Army Strong."
AUSA Family Programs also congratulates the first runner-up family for the AUSA Volunteer Family of the Year Award – CW4 Israel Rivera, his wife, Sandra, and their children, Ariana Isabela, and Abraham Enrique.
As a member and former president of the U.S. Army Warrant Officer’s Association’s Crater Chapter, Fort Lee, Va., Israel was involved in the chapter’s volunteer activities.
He spearheaded the group’s involvement with Rebuilding Together "Tri-Cities," a program that organizes volunteers to rebuild homes in the cities of Petersburg and Hopewell.
He also volunteered at many youth events, and he currently serves as a coach with the Fort Lee Youth Bowling League.
Sandra Rivera and the Rivera children are also involved in volunteering in their community.
Each member of the Rivera family has been recognized with certificates of appreciation, certificates of achievement, and the Fort Lee Garrison Commander’s Coin of Excellence.
On March 15, each member of Rivera family was awarded the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for their community contributions in 2011. As a family, the Riveras contributed over 1,400 hours in 2011.
The AUSA Army Volunteer Family of the Year is sponsored by the TriWest Healthcare Alliance.
Since its founding in 1996, TriWest Healthcare Alliance has been On a Mission to Serve® America’s military families in the TRICARE West Region.
TriWest has been a supporter of the AUSA Volunteer Family of the Year since 2010.
The first runner up family is sponsored by Express Scripts.
Express Scripts is the contractor for the TRICARE mail order pharmacy program and makes the use of prescription drugs safer and more affordable for tens of millions of consumers through thousands of employers, government, union and health plans.