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News | March 1, 2017

DLA Land and Maritime recognizes women volunteers

By Dana Thornbury DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

DLA Land and Maritime recognizes women volunteers during the months of March and April in honor of Women’s History Month and National Volunteer Month.

Volunteers are ordinary people who perform extraordinary work. It doesn’t take a great deal of time or sacrifice to make a difference in the life of someone else.

Whether we realize it or not, many of us have volunteered throughout the year by helping out with an installation event, coaching a sport, assisting in a classroom, picking up trash while hiking etc… while others have participated in activities such as helping out at the local soup kitchen, building houses or beautification projects within the community. No matter the act, all volunteer efforts deserve applause.

As the fourth-largest employer in the area, the Defense Supply Center Columbus (DSCC) plays a vital role in taking action and solving problems within our community.

Annually, DLA participates in the Feds Feed Families food drive as well as the Combined Federal Campaign, a philanthropic way for federal employees to donate to a charity of their choosing.

Locally at DLA Land and Maritime, the EEO Special Emphasis Programs (SEP), councils, organizations and workforce reach out into the community throughout the year. Projects include reading to children at local schools and organizing various initiatives such as school supply and coat drives.

The Federal Women’s Program is responsible for ongoing volunteer efforts such as Whitehall Mentoring Program, Developing Leaders Academy, Women’s Leadership Summit and Luncheon as well as projects such as the Flint Water Drive and the DSCC Holiday Ball.

DLA Land and Maritime has a caring workforce that spends numerous hours giving back and making an impact within the greater Columbus area. Many employees spend hours improving their community through traditional and skill-based volunteer efforts.

Below you will find out a little more about some of the women volunteers within the DLA Land and Maritime workforce.

While we are highlighting a few of our DLA Land and Maritime women volunteers, we would like to recognize our entire workforce who give of themselves to help others. Let’s motivate others to join the effort and better the community in which we live and work. After all, one of the most recognized childhood authors, Dr. Seuss, once said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

volunteer banner

Volunteer Brenda volunteer Gwendolyn volunteer Mary volunteer Patty volunteer Penny volunteer Tanya
Brenda Minnema Gwendolyn Hoogendoorn Mary McWilliams Patricia Hisey Penelope Morgan-Loper Tanya Merritt

Gwendolyn Hoogendoorn

Demand/Supply Chain Analyst - BAEC

volunteer GwendolynWhat inspired you to volunteer? My passion for animal welfare and conservation.

Where do you currently volunteer? The Ohio Wildlife Center for 18yrs and the Ohio Wildlife Rehabilitation Association. I also volunteer annually as a judge for a Science Fair at Big Walnut HS and for the State Park Service’s “clean up” days.

What do you do as a volunteer? An array of things from raising orphaned, neo-natal wildlife until they “graduate” to a pre-release facility (lots of late night bottle feedings!) and caring for injured/ill animals at the wildlife hospital and pre-release facility. I participate in educational wildlife events for the public and serve on the Rescue Team to transport injured animals reported by the community.

How did you first get involved with volunteering? I brought an injured animal to the free hospital 18+ years ago. I was amazed to witness the dedication of the people who worked there and wanted to be a part of their team.

What have you enjoyed most about previous volunteer work? Making a positive difference in someone or something’s life.

Can you tell me about some of the people you met while volunteering? I have met the kindest people across Ohio and from every imaginable background. I have worked with the frantic caller with an injured bunny to expeditionary tour leaders for National Geographic. They all share a common bond of compassion!

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering? Giving back to your community, in whatever capacity you choose, is immeasurably rewarding not only for you but also for the recipient of your good nature.

If you were not volunteering, what would you be doing instead? I have been a scuba diving instructor for 15 years and am captivated by the underwater world. March also turns the corner for 25yrs of military service!

About the photo. Gwendolyn is showing an owl the clinic has helped. The owl was presented to the clinic by a concerned member of the community about 8 years ago and is now an ambassador animal for educational programs due to his unusual docile nature. His injuries included significant wing damage that prevents him from flying.



Penelope (Penny) Morgan-Loper

Branch Chief of Post Award, Maritime (Contracting Officer)

volunteer GwendolynWhat inspired you to volunteer? For me, volunteering and helping others is part of my faith. Our church sponsors the Stowe Center financially and by volunteering as needed. The Stowe Center is on Parsons Avenue in Columbus. They provide meals to the homeless, free dental and vision health care, a prenatal clinic, a clothing room, the Christian Women's Coalition of Jobs, groceries to needy families, and church services.

Where do you currently volunteer? Currently I volunteer at the Stowe Center.

What do you do as a volunteer? I am a server at lunch. Sometimes I will do food preparation, e.g. butter bread, heat up green beans, prepare the serving line, etc. My favorite job is carrying trays for people with disabilities and young children. I get a chance to talk to them and treat them as if they were a guest in my home. I come back and offer drink refills, provide extra napkins or whatever someone may need.  

How did you first get involved with volunteering? A year or so ago, my husband (Steve Loper) mentioned that one of the church serving team (Bloom Baptist in Lithopolis, Ohio) was short on volunteers to help at our meal preparation and serving. There are several serving teams at church and I was shocked that they were short on volunteers. He mentioned that most of the volunteers were retirees, some of them were now in their 80s, and not able to serve the way they used to. Steve inspired me as he invited his coworkers on the second floor and some retirees to come help serve at Stowe. Soon, I started asking my coworkers and enlisted their help. It is very common for my teammates to serve and even my Division Chief, Charles Sharp, likes to serve. We carpool down to the Stowe (parking is limited) and never have a seat to spare. I think our caravan is usually about 3 full carloads full of DSCC associates and retirees. Last month we served approximately 400 meals in 1.5 hours.

Can you tell me about some of the people you met while volunteering? We’re blessed to have good jobs and steady incomes. You often forget what poverty looks like. The people we serve at the Stowe Center are all ages. It’s not uncommon to see a teenager with several little ones, a senior citizen, people with disabilities and many veterans. Some of the people are lonely and want to have a conversation. Others are suspicious of anyone who is kind. You have to determine what type of approach is appropriate. Often we see young children and I am not sure why they are not in school. Many kids eat several adult plates of food and ask for extra applesauce and cookies. I remember that Mr. Sharp told me that he had 'forgot that people like that existed.' I knew exactly what he meant. Sometimes you just try to keep from getting overwhelmed by situations when you are serving. You have to get past that and process those emotions later.

Some people come to the Stowe at the very end of the mealtime to get leftovers to take home. (After serving everyone, we give out leftovers.) There is never a scrap of food left. I have seen people compete for a zip lock bag full of leftover gravy.

What have you enjoyed most about current/previous volunteer work? Volunteering is all about demonstrating servant leadership. If I can show love and care by a smile or helping, then my purpose has been fulfilled.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering? Give back to others. Join us at the Stowe Center or some other worthy cause. Focusing on other people is the best way to relieve your own stress. At the Stowe, I’m reminded that I have luxuries like food to eat, a home and a bed to sleep in.

If you were not volunteering, what would you be doing instead? I spend my time with my family and activities at my church. Steve and I have 4 daughters, a son-in-law, and 3 granddaughters. We enjoy our 4 dachshund dogs. I love crocheting. My life is busy and I like it that way.


Tanya Merritt

Supervisor Shared Service

volunteer TanyaWhat inspired you to volunteer? I really didn't need to be inspired, I just possess the spirit of giving.  

Where do you currently volunteer? Whitehall-Yearling High School, Life Care Alliance, Executive Women Golf League. (EWGA) and team mom for my grandson's basketball team.

What do you do as a volunteer? At Whitehall-Yearling high school, I work with a group of dedicated mentors who assist students with learning basic life skills that will help them succeed. The program is designed to help the students face their challenge with communication, organization and leadership abilities. At Life Care Alliance, I deliver meals to the elderly and occasional provide them with company by talking to them for 35-40 minutes while they eat. Also, I am on the board of directors with the EWGA to assist with bringing diversity and fun to women golf. As the team mom for my grandson's basketball team, I simply keep the kids motivated so that they have fun, fill in when the coach is absent and send out communication for updates on the team practices.

How did you first get involved with volunteering? I have always volunteered within my community in some capacity or another. I just like being active and involved with youth. Volunteering allows me the opportunity to fulfill my need to give back and live by my believe that "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more". Luke 12:48

What have you enjoyed most about previous volunteer work? I enjoy listening to the kids’ opinion about their views on life and having the opportunity to provide them with a different view and perspectives that will allow them to make more informed decisions. It is easy to be removed from what young people struggle with now a days if you are not around them or have youngsters of your own. The students that we mentor are very bright kids and have bright futures but some lack the confidence needed to push through their challenges. It makes me so happy when I witness the improvement in their self-confidence and communication skills.

Can you tell me about some of the people you met while volunteering? Aside from the great students and dedicated hard-working mentors from DLA Land and Maritime and DHRS, I've met some wonderful elderly people who have great stories to share during meal time.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering? My suggestion to anyone considering volunteering would be to try volunteering in an area that matches their interest; it would be the most rewarding experience of their life.

If you were not volunteering, what would you be doing instead? I will probably always volunteer in some capacity. However, when I am not volunteering I will more than likely be on the golf course or spending quality time with my husband and grandchildren.

Patricia (Patty) Hisey

Lead IT Specialist

volunteer PattyWhat inspired you to volunteer?  My son (Cary Hisey Jr - Eagle Scout 2010)

Where do you currently volunteer? Boy Scouts of America, Simon Kenton Council

What do you do as a volunteer? Assistant Scoutmaster and Venturing Advisor. Mentor youth to make ethical and moral choices; provide a safe place to make mistakes and learn while having fun.

How did you first get involved with volunteering?  When my son was in Cub Scouts, I help with the den.  Once he crossed over to Boy Scouts, I really got involved at different levels of scouting.

What have you enjoyed most about current/previous volunteer work?  Watching youth on their life journey grow into well-balanced young adult and great leaders.

Can you tell me about some of the people you met while volunteering?  I have shook hands with the King of Sweden and talked with Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs), I was able to watch my daughter present the "State of Scouting" to the Governor of Ohio (Mr. Kasich).  The most interesting people are the everyday people who achieve such great things.  Everyone has a story to tell if you are willing to listen.  We have leaders who are doctors, nurses, CEO and other company leaders, nuclear scientist, IT people.  You name the job and I bet I could find someone in scouting who does it.  

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?  Get involved, meet new and interesting people, remember you own life's journey. How will you be remember or what will be your legacy. 

If you were not volunteering, what would you be doing instead?  Farming (raising chickens, right now) planning for horse soon.  I also like wood working and leather craft.


Mary McWilliams

Electronics Engineer

volunteer Mary

What inspired you to volunteer? I was taught by my parents and mentors that no one gets anywhere on their own. Someone had to help you on your path. As such, I am obligated to pay it forward.

Where do you currently volunteer?

• 2014-2017 National Professionals Chair Emeritus, National Society of Black Engineers
• 2015-2016 National Professionals Chair, National Society of Black Engineers
• 2014-2015 National Professionals Chair-elect, National Society of Black Engineers

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.With more than 30,000 members around the world, NSBE is one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the United States. NSBE’s mission is "to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community."

• 2016-2017 Board of Directors, Phi Sigma Rho Sorority Foundation

The Phi Sigma Rho Foundation is the charitable arm of Phi Sigma Rho Sorority, a social sorority for women in engineering and engineering technology. We strive to promote social responsibility, personal integrity and lifelong enrichment by providing professional, educational, philanthropic, and leadership development opportunities for the members and friends of Phi Sigma Rho Sorority.

What do you do as a volunteer? I mentor college students who are studying in the STEM fields who are NSBE members. I assist with their leadership development and ensure they are ready to enter the professional realm upon graduation. I along with other NSBE professionals, work with our corporate partners to make our programs as robust as possible to assist the needs of our membership demographic. I also help groom our next set of collegiate and professional leaders.

I also facilitate workshops in servant leadership, ethics in the workplace and crucial conversations.

With Phi Sigma Rho, I serve as the secretary for the Foundation. I am also a founding member of the sorority’s Ohio State University Chapter where I have served as an advisor.

How did you first get involved with volunteering? My family always stressed the importance of volunteering, so I have been volunteering in some capacity all my life.

What have you enjoyed most about previous volunteer work? Being able to inspire, encourage and mentor other young people in the STEM fields has been very rewarding for me.

Can you tell me about some of the people you met while volunteering? I have met Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, U.S. astronauts, health physicists and scientists, along with a number of stellar individuals in the STEM fields.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering? It is good to give of your time and expertise. It is very rewarding. I learn as I give of my time and talents.

If you were not volunteering, what would you be doing instead? My life would not be worth living. My other interests are reading, traveling and attending theater productions.


Brenda Minnema

Management and Program Analyst

volunteer Brenda

What inspired you to volunteer? I have something inside of me wants to make a difference in the lives of others. It keeps me grateful and thankful for what I have.... And, I know that ‘what goes around comes around’ otherwise known as sowing and reaping exists. I want people to do good to me, so I intentionally do good for others.

I first started as a volunteer by taking my two standard poodles (therapy dogs) to nursing home in the inner city, seeking out a place/people that most people avoid. I did it twice a month for eight years, because it was awesome feeling to "make the day" of the residents.

Where do you currently volunteer? Right now just Vineyard Columbus and International Friendships Inc. (IFI). I’m now thinking about going to hospice with my therapy dogs.

What do you do as a volunteer? At Vineyard Columbus my husband and I are marriage coaches in Begin Again (the crisis marriage restoration program); and we teach a class in How2Become1 (the step-family premarital class) on how2B1.

At IFI we pick-up international OSU students and/or visiting scholars at the airport and provide temporary housing, until they either get an apartment or into the dorm, normally for a day or two. I take them to the university for orientation, then the university staff takes them from there. Then we invite them to Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday or other special occasions with our family.

How did you first get involved with volunteering? With the marriage coaching, someone helped me when my marriage was in crisis in 2007. The program is run by coaches (previous 'graduates') who also made it through a crisis and give back (program has an 85% success rate). Now I give back by helping other people, and keeps my marriage healthy.

With the IFI, I wanted our daughters to expand their 'cultural experiences’ by exposing them to really bright college students from other countries. I was stationed in Okinawa for three years (USAF) so it wasn't a stretch for me to bring students and/or visiting scholars into my home. I was comfortable with the communication issues and other cultures.

What have you enjoyed most about previous volunteer work? I really like being in a position to help others, I do believe I get more out it than those I'm helping. Visiting people in nursing homes was most rewarding of all the volunteer work. However, as a marriage coach with crisis marriages, I get to see miracles happen over and over through the seven week program (three times a year). It's the closest thing to a burning bush I'm probably going to experience.

Can you tell me about some of the people you met while volunteering? My favorites are two people I met at the nursing home that have Huntington's Disease (terminal and no known cure), Timmy J. and Danielle C. Timmy was in his late 20's and Danielle was probably 40. They loved the dogs; watching them light up when we walked in the room was always an awe-inspiring experience. I came to truly love Timmy and Danielle, and I miss them. I can’t go there now because one of the other residents attacked me as we were leaving one day in 2014.

Through IFI, most of the students we’ve hosted have been from China: we’ve had 4 female students and 6-7 male students both undergrad and grad students; one married couple both grad students, and one visiting scholar from Beijing University. We also had two male grad students from India who have become like our children. It has made for entertaining holiday experiences.

All I can say about the couples I’ve met in Begin Again: I have seen it all and heard it all in the last 10 years with more than 200+ couples going through the program. Nothing shocks me anymore. They come broken, defeated and leave 7 weeks later with renewed hope and tools to overcome their obstacles. Sometimes I continue with couple into Phase II, one-one coaching for an additional 4-5 meetings to get them started into new healthier routine.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering? When you get out and help people, you grow in ways you never could imagine. As I said earlier, helping people through a crisis marriage problem helps my marriage. If there's an area you want to grow in, volunteer in that area.

If you were not volunteering, what would you be doing instead? I'd be working out more, doing Pinterest wood-working projects and learning/making new recipes. My marriage is probably healthier because my husband prefers I not start any more Pinterest projects....