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Misawa volunteer receives presidential award

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The American Red Cross chairman of volunteers, Jessica McCollum, received the President's Lifetime Achievement Award here, Dec. 18.

The President's Volunteer Service Awards honors deeply-invested volunteers whose service multiplies by the inspiration they give to others.

The awards have multiple levels, each designed to recognize milestones of an individual’s service achievement. Levels include bronze, silver, gold and the highest honor: the President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Jessica received this level of honor due to her contribution of more than 4,000 hours of service in her lifetime.

"I was shocked when they presented the award to me," expressed Jessica. "I was unaware that a recognition of this magnitude existed."

Jessica received a personalized certificate, an official pin and a congratulatory letter from the President of the United States.

"I'm very proud of my wife," said Master Sgt. Brian McCollum, the 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron first sergeant. "Receiving this recognition from the president attests to all her hard work and dedication she puts forth everyday to making Misawa’s community better."

What takes individuals a lifetime to achieve, as stated in the award's title, took Jessica a mere three years. Since her arrival at Misawa AB, she accumulated a total of 5,444 volunteer hours from Jan. 31, 2015, to Dec. 20, 2017.

Though Jessica volunteers with a number of organizations across base, one of her favorites was the Misawa Key Spouses Cookie Caper, which provided more than 30,000 cookies to approximately 2,500 single and unaccompanied U.S. and Japan Air Self-Defense Force service members during the holiday season.

Outside of the Key Spouse organization, Jessica also spends time helping sports teams her children are on, and off base, she is the primary lead for the Aomori International Exchange Summer Camp. In addition, she aids the American Red Cross in meeting their mission goals of disaster preparedness, providing relief for families in emergency situations.

As chairman of volunteers, Jessica manages more than 86 American Red Cross recruits. She reaches out to them when opportunities arise and ensures they are properly tracking their hours.

"I am so grateful she signed up to be a volunteer with the Red Cross when she arrived," said Karen Jorgenson, the American Red Cross regional program manager. "The commitment and tenacity she displays every day truly makes her an invaluable member of our team."

Growing up, volunteering was a family affair for Jessica. Her parents were avid volunteers throughout her life paving the way to the mindset she holds today.

"My mom always said, ‘volunteering is the right you pay for the space you occupy on the Earth,'" Jessica explained. "Everyone needs to do their part to make the world a better place."

Jessica accredits her ambition and success not only to her family but also to the leadership and spouses she met at their first duty station together at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England.

"As a young military spouse, I was very fortunate to meet fantastic people who encouraged me and supported my volunteer endeavors," Jessica said. "I wouldn't have achieved so much nor had this level of passion if it wasn't for them."

Jessica dedicates her life to helping people in need and giving back to the community any way possible.

"Everyone can make a difference, even the smallest gesture can improve a person’s day or inspire them to get involved in the community," Jessica concluded.