NORFOLK, Va. - Kelley Graves didn't know what to think. News 3 surprised the volunteer at the USO center at Norfolk International Airport after we received an email about her dedication from another volunteer, James Harris.
"She goes above and beyond in everything she does with her number one priority: Always being, taking care of the troops and their families. Kelley loves doing what she does because she just wants to give back to the troops for the sacrifices they make every day for this country," James read.
And that's exactly what she does. Kelley is that smiling face that greets our troops at the USO center at the airport, a place where the troops can come when they've just landed or waiting for a flight. There's food, a small kitchen area, a place to watch TV or relax while reading a book. There are even toys for the kids of military personnel; that's a big relief for mom Jennifer Adams, a Navy Aviation Ordnanceman.
"USO is amazing. I do my layovers here, when my baby is desperate and he just wants a break, they have a little play area for him....for me it's a blessing. It's a blessing," Jennifer said.
So, Kelley volunteers at the center about twice a week. One day a week she stops by the Foodbank to bring in food and snacks. But her big success? Fundraising.
It's believed in the four years she's volunteered with the USO she's raised about $40,000. And that's critical, because there is no government funding to help the USO---all that's offered at the airport center is provided through donations.
For those reasons, News 3 presented Kelley with a People Taking Action award along with a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner, Southern Bank.
Kelley was very grateful and said the money will be used at the center. The director of this USO center, Len Friddle, says it's who Kelley is.
"She just never stops. She never stops giving; she never stops coming. If we ever need anything, Kelley is there. So, Kelley means everything to this organization," Len told us.
And Kelley is willing to share the USO means to our troops.
"A lot of people don't know what the USO is, so that's another mission that I have. So call me! I'll come to your church, your organization, your school and I will tell you what the USO is and what it can do for all our young men and women," Kelley said.
While Kelley's husband is former Navy and her son-in-law serves in the Navy, she says her passion about the USO started as a Chesapeake history educator and says she learned about the value of the USO while teaching her students about World War II.
If your church, organization, school or civic group would like more information on how you can take action for the USO, contact Kelley via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on how you can donate to the USO Hampton Roads and Central Virginia, click here.
Do you know someone who's worthy of a People Taking Action award? Click here to nominate them!