AUSA Family Programs
Endurance. Strength. Flexibility. Tenacity.
These attributes could be used to describe so many military families that someone could assume they’re issued with military orders.
It’s no secret that military families are exceptional, but some, like the Flores family, step away from the pack with their extraordinary efforts.
The Flores family – 1st Sgt. Tommy, wife Laura, and kids Zanayah, 12, and Carlos, 10, – have been remarkable members of every community the Army has sent them to, and AUSA is delighted to honor them as our 2013 Volunteer Family of the Year.
Adding new meaning to families serving, too, the Floreses were selected from more than 100 nominated families to the receive the award, which highlights the volunteer service efforts of the entire family.
Stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, for more than a year, the family quickly became active in local organizations and events, including Rescue Mission and Miracle League.
Miracle League, that provides opportunities for special needs children to play baseball as part of an organized team, was an important find for the family as they looked to provide an outlet for Zanayah.
Flores and Laura serve as a team and assistant coaches, taking on the organization and leadership responsibilities in addition to their "real life positions" – Tommy as an active duty service member taking college courses, and Laura as a Family Readiness Group leader.
The league’s success depends on the initiative of volunteers, and the Flores family also lends a hand in fundraising for the organization by regularly conducting fundraisers at sporting events and concerts.
Carlos joins in on the action by acting as an "angel in the outfield," helping his sister and other Miracle League players during practices and games.
The family also volunteers at Christmas Street and El Paso’s Rescue Mission, that assists less fortunate members of the community by providing food, clothing, shelter, counseling, education and vocational training to help them take care of themselves and their families by learning the skills necessary to enter the work force.
Above and beyond?
We think so, but the Flores family simply sees their efforts in the community as a token of gratitude for the help and support they have felt from others over the years.
Laura said, "There have been numerous occasions where I have been in public and have had a stressful situation occur with my daughter. I have had complete strangers approach me and assist me. From a mom at Biggs park that has five children of her own, or the veteran at WALMART who uses a cane to assist in his walking."
Adding, "These strangers saw me struggling and asked if they could help me. I could not give them anything in return except to say thank you. For people to take time out of their day and ask if they can help me, that is something to praise. I will forever be thankful to them."
Take a few moments to get to know the Flores family.
Q: If you could use one word to describe your family, what would it be?
A: Carlos said, "‘Special’ because we are different from most families because we have a father in the military, a good hearted mother, a sister with special needs, and a brother that gets frustrated."
Tommy Flores and Laura agreed on "‘determined,’ " because we both strive to be the best at whatever we do, always do what's right, strive to be good leaders, role models, and never give up."
Q: What has been your favorite duty station? What did or do you like most about it?
A: Laura said, "Fort Carson, Colorado because of the teachers, resources, weather and scenery," but the guys both agree it is Fort Bliss, Texas, because of the Miracle League, close proximity to family and friends, the food, and – believe it or not – school.
Q: What or who inspires you to serve your military community?
A: "We are inspired by our daughter’s disability and her resilience to continue to develop and gain acceptance, other children with disabilities, children whose parents are deployed and veterans who have given to their country.
"We want to teach our children the importance of giving back to the community and to not expect anything in return."
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a military family?
A: "The opportunity to travel to new places, realizing the world is different from what is at your door step and being able to serve our country and making my family proud of me."
Carlos said, "Meeting new people, be more confident and making new friends at new schools."
For their exceptional volunteer work, the Flores family received the 2013 Gen. of the Army Omar N. Bradley Chapter’ AUSA Family Award and the 2013 Fort Bliss Outstanding Volunteer Family Award.
This year, we are proud to honor a family whose spirit of service and compassion is an inspiring presence in the military community, and whose tenacity in the face of adversity is a model of strength for Army families.
Congratulations to the Flores family.
We look forward to formally presenting you with the Volunteer Family of the Year Award at the 2013 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition.