Fort Bliss family named National Volunteer Family of the Year
El Paso Times, Texas
Fort Bliss' First Sgt. Tommy Flores says he and his wife, Laura, do not need recognition for volunteering countless hours with the Miracle League of El Paso where the couple helps run concession stands, are willing to coach, and are always a phone call away.
"I actually wish I could do more but I have a job and I have children but I wish I could give back more than I actually do," said Flores, who is in the Charlie Battery, 2-43 Air Defense Artillery, 11th ADA Brigade.
Flores and his family are considered great role models for other military and civilian families. The family has been chosen as the National Volunteer Family of the year by the Association of the United States Army. The family was nominated by the local chapter of the Omar N. Bradley Chapter. The association is a private, nonprofit educational organization that supports the Army.
"It's prestigious because it's a national competition. And they were selected from over 100 nominations," said Gus Rodriguez, local Bradley chapter president.
The award will be presented to the Floreses at the Association's Annual Meeting and Exposition Oct. 21 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C.
Rodriguez said the family's commitment to volunteering is inspiring and displays extraordinary compassion and leadership.
"The important thing is that every member of the family has to be a volunteer. And in the case of the Floreses, they not only volunteer at Fort Bliss but outside of Fort Bliss," he said.
Laura Flores said the family got involved with the Miracle League when they looked for an outlet for their special needs daughter, Zanayah, a few years ago. The Miracle League provides opportunities for children with disabilities to play baseball.
Zanayah, 12, plays baseball during the spring and fall seasons.
Their son, Carlos, 10, enjoys volunteering alongside his parents.
"We thought it was a great organization and we are just really thankful to the (director) for all the work she has put into the organization. (Volunteering) is our way of showing our appreciation," she said.
The mom said her extended family often helps take care of their daughter so they can man concession stands during football season at the University of Texas at El Paso and other events.
The parents said they are thankful for what their daughter gets out of the Miracle League -- being able to socialize and a chance to participate in activities she might not otherwise be able to be involved in.
"She started playing when she was really small. And when she went out there, the whole crowd started clapping and she felt amazing. I think getting all that attention kept her into playing sports and doing things like this," Tommy Flores said.
Sandra Olivar, executive director of the Miracle League, said the Flores family is very deserving of the award.
"They are amazing. They were first with us before they went to Colorado and since they've returned, he has not only coached the team, but he and his soldiers do all of the fundraising events and we can just about count on him for anything," she said.
"And Laura is always there to help in the office and with whatever we need help with."
The family was stationed in Fort Carson, Colo., for two years and then Fort Sill, Okla., for another two years before being relocated El Paso again in December of 2011.
Olivar said, "Tommy and Laura deserve it so much. They sacrifice a lot with their child with special needs. A lot of families with special needs need resources but they're more about giving than receiving. I'm proud to know them and proud of them."
Tommy Flores often motivates other soldiers to volunteer at the League as well as other worthwhile organizations.
"It just depends but we do continuously have soldiers volunteer for different things that we do," he said.
"Last year we started looking for something to do as a unit and we started going to the Rescue Mission on Thursdays after we got off work. We served dinner for them and we asked if we could take children and they helped with serving drinks," he said.