Recognizing Our Presidential Volunteer Service Award Winners
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
In honor of National Volunteer Month, we are proud to recognize incredible associates who logged significant volunteer hours in 2021. Because of their time and dedication, each of them has received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, a prestigious honor from the Office of the President of the United States. This award recognizes individuals whose service positively impacts communities in every corner of the nation and inspires those around them to take action. We extend a big congratulations to: Kevin Johnson, Nicolas Freshour, Thomas Crowley and Nickole Cunningham. We asked them to share a little bit about where they volunteer and why they do it.
Kevin Johnson, Technical Web Content Developer: 361 Hours
Favorite Way to Volunteer: One Tail at a Time
I like opening my home to foster pets. Owning a pet is an investment for multiple decades, and I felt like fostering was a pretty decent middle ground. I ended up having a cat for months and months who came to me with burn wounds. I fostered her until she got better and then she was able to be adopted. Now I have two new cats that are driving me insane!
Volunteering is a community thing and it’s about kindness. I think all of us are pretty privileged to be at a company where we have robust benefits and bonus opportunities. While we're in that position, try to give to those who may not have resources. Dollars-for-doers is a great example of UScellular rewarding associates for their volunteer time by providing financial donations to the organizations that associates are passionate about. And I’ve already taken advantage of the company’s Associate Matching program – I’m already donating to these places so why not match those dollars and get more money to the organization you support? It's nice to see the company is doing these sorts of things because it helps build that sense of community.
Nicolas Freshour, Business Development Manager - Emerging Dist.: 357 Hours
Favorite Way to Volunteer: Cedar Rapids Reds Youth Baseball
I played for the Cedar Rapids Reds youth baseball program when I was young for seven years. I lost track of the organization through college and the start of my career, but when my wife and I had boys, they became interested in baseball and I got involved with the Reds again. I'm on their board of directors, serve as their communications director and coach. The Reds have been around since 1989, which is one of the longest youth baseball organizations in the whole country. These little guys work hard. They have a lot of passion behind baseball, and they learn life lessons through the game.
We're not just teaching baseball; we're teaching leadership, setting goals, going after them, preparing and working hard. That’s my favorite part about volunteering with this organization. It's about making a difference and teaching them life lessons through a game that I love.
I enjoy being able to serve the community with UScellular’s support, and I wouldn’t be able to do it without the focus on local community and volunteerism they set the example and expectation for.
Thomas Crowley, Lead Operations Control Analyst: 286 Hours
Favorite Way to Volunteer: Mount Ashland
I have a history of volunteering from when I was a little kid and volunteered at the retirement community in my hometown. Then in college, I was a member of a service fraternity called Alpha Phi Omega. Today I volunteer at Mount Ashland, our local non-profit community ski area. They host an afterschool program on Thursday and Friday evenings where they bring in school buses of kids who would otherwise never learn how to ski. I meet people now that have worked on the mountain for years who started as a part of that program.
There's just so many opportunities, it's amazing. To volunteer, visit volunteer.gov or search online for volunteer opportunities in your area. Right now, I'm also volunteering to do virtual reading for 20 minutes, one day a week with second graders.
I don't volunteer for recognition, but it’s exciting to be honored by my company and country. My mother is going to be so proud.
Nickole Cunningham, Store Manager: 265 Hours
Favorite Way to Volunteer: Oklahomans for Equality Bartlesville & PTA
I mainly split my volunteer time between two organizations. I volunteer with Oklahomans for Equality Bartlesville, and I'm on their board of directors. The organization focuses on the LGBTQ+ community and making sure that the laws, city regulations and politicians in our city are representing them, their safety and their wellbeing. We did the big Pride festival in August in Bartlesville, which is a big feat to get people involved in our little rural community. I love volunteering and it keeps me busy.
I also volunteer with my child’s school. I’m the PTO co-president and I teach an all-girls pack of Cub Scouts, which is why I'm currently bald. I bet the girls if they sold $4,000 in popcorn, they could shave my head. They sold $4,800 in about two weeks. Volunteering for the Scouts is important because as a single mom, I’m learning skills that I never had before - like how to saw and to camp outside. But in learning those skills, I’m teaching my daughter that as a woman, I can do anything and so can she.
I'm super thankful to work for a company where volunteering is important. From the very beginning, even my first couple weeks, my store manager encouraged me to volunteer, and I'm so thankful.