Hall receives volunteer award for family-readiness efforts

Lena Hall displays the certificate and crystal statute she received April 23 for her volunteer work on behalf of families of the Army National Guard.Verlenia “Lena” Hall, office manager for the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce, was recently recognized for her volunteer work with the Army National Guard.

Hall was presented a leadership award April 23 in Manhattan for being one of the top family-readiness leaders in Kansas.

Hall was given not only a certificate, but also a crystal statue for her long hours and dedication.

Family-readiness group leaders serve as a liaison between the Army National Guard and families.

“Often things are spoken in acronyms, and there will be a lot of spouses standing there wondering what was just said,” she said.

Her primary work is to assist individuals and families who may be new to the military.

“Maybe they don’t have groceries or gas money, and so they get in contact with me,” she said. “Some are very proud, and they will try to do it under the radar without telling me.”

Hall said she may take a young family to a local food bank or a hiring fair, or help them with utility bills.

“If they want help, I will send it out to my adviser, and they take care of it,” she said. “It’s completely confidential.”

Her adviser is a retired veteran who is now a dependent and works with the Department of Defense.

Hall’s husband, Sam, is with the Army National Guard, stationed at Hutchinson.

“He is what they call an M Day soldier, which means one weekend a month, and two weeks out of the year,” she said.

Email correspondence

As an FRG volunteer, Hall said she does a lot of corresponding via email.

“About every day I get two or three emails from my adviser about a camp or scholarship for a military child,” she said.

When Hall said she gets those types of special offers, she will send them to one of the unit sergeants so they can email them out to the soldiers.

“I also do newsletters, and am in charge of planning Christmas parties in December or family picnics in the summer,” she said.

A new program

The FRG is a fairly new program, Hall said.

“After 9/11, the U.S. Army started to realize that the backbone of our soldiers are the families,” she said. “Families to the Army could be a wife, mother, father, siblings, or even a neighbor down the street.”

Hall said she saddened when someone joins the military and the rest of the family doesn’t agree with that decision.

“The soldier might be disowned by his parents, or other family members and then there’s no one to go home, too,” she said.

During the holidays, the leaders will bring people in for Thanksgiving and Christ­mas celebrations.

“Holidays by yourself isn’t much fun,” she said.

The Halls returned to Kansas after Sam was stationed in Fort Lewis, Wash., just outside of Seattle.

Lena Hall, who lives in Marion, joked that she is a warrior by birth. Her husband graduated from Salina Central in 2005.

Even though a lot of time goes into helping families, Hall said she wouldn’t give it up.

“I really enjoy it,” she said.

Training

During summer 2012, Hall had her FRG training in Hillsboro.

“They drove to me and did my training in the back of the restaurant,” she said. “It’s like a whole other family.”

Not only is Hall an advocate for families, she also advocates for the miliary.

As coordinator for the Hillsboro Farmers Market, Hall has helped organize “Armed Forces Night” June 30.

“The recruiters really do want to talk to people and there’s no pressure,” she said. “Remember troops are people, too.”

Tags from the story
Written By
More from Patty Decker
Marion receives $715,904 for downtown project
The city of Marion will receive $715,904 in state funding to enhance...
Read More