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Tri-Command services work hard, win awards

By Cpl. K. A. Thompson | | August 5, 2005

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The Laurel Bay Youth Center and Marine Corps Community Services-South Carolina's retail operations recently earned awards for their efforts in the Tri-Command.

On July 19, the Laurel Bay Youth Center was selected for the Secretary of Defense Fulcrum Shield Award. The award will be presented at the Pentagon's Red Ribbon Week Opening Ceremony Oct. 24.

The annual award is named in honor of five military personnel from Fort Bliss, Texas, who were killed in an airplane crash in 1999 while on a counter drug reconnaissance mission in Columbia, according to an MCCS Headquarters press release.

The Fulcrum Shield is designed to recognize the best youth-based program that makes an effort to spread the anti-drug message, and is affiliated with a military service, defense agency or the National Guard, according to Joanna Eccles, the Red Ribbon Week Coordinator for the Pentagon.

“The winner is selected by a panel of judges from the Office of the Secretary of Defense,” Eccles said. “(This year) there were seven total nominations for the award coming from various services and the National Guard.”

The LBYC was able to display strong youth leadership in the anti-drug message by submitting a nomination that listed all of the projects or youth sponsored events that took place last year, according to Terri Nelson, the regional youth director for MCCS-SC.

“We do this by informing our youth through the (Drug Education for Youth) program, and other (Boys and Girls Club of America) organizations,” Nelson said. “And hopefully by participating in small acts of good deeds throughout the community.”

Activities at LBYC are available for children from elementary school age to teens. Several times a year, the staff at the Youth Center tries to get each age group involved in projects that will help make a difference, according to Nelson. Last years efforts include a teen sponsored blood drive, a DEFY and Latch Key canned food drive to help restock the food pantries on base and a change collection for hurricane victims in Florida.

“Pat Starr (the teen and youth coordinator for MCCS-SC) and Michelle Hinson (a program assistant and advisor for BGCA) do a great job listening to what our kids want to do and then we try to help them do it,” Nelson said. “We try to develop the kid's leadership skills.”

The Laurel Bay Youth Center was able to come out on top because of a joint effort between the community, staff, MCCS-SC support and the kids participating in the programs, according to Nelson.

“We are excited about this award,” Nelson said. “Our staff and kids really do a good job of reaching out into our community. This award just validates their hard work.”

The LBYC staff is proud of their accomplishment, but they are not going to slow down, according to Nelson. They will be hosting the East Coast Teen Summit this month and a National Kids Day on Sunday. Also in the works for the future are a car wash to benefit families of deployed service members, a garage sale and volunteering at a soup kitchen in Charleston.

Marine Corps Community Services-South Carolina Retail Operations also earned bragging rights for the Tri-Command by winning the Spirit and Pride Award 2004 at the Marine Corps Exchange Retail Conference held in San Francisco in May.

The Spirit and Pride Award is given based on an evaluation system that tallies a certain number of points. Categories include customer service evaluations, such as comment cards and the Mystery Shopper Program. Financial goals are also a factor and are judged on meeting or surpassing projected sales goals. Each category can be measured against an Associate Satisfaction Index and Customer Satisfaction Index, according to Gary Miller, the head of marketing for MCCS Headquarters.

The award was given to retail operations at both bases, to include the main, 7-Day Marine Mart, and Military Clothing stores, according to Robert Allen, the director of retail and services for MCCS-SC.

“Both bases scored high on all levels at each of our facilities,” Allen said.

Each employee received a coin, and the shops are taking turns sharing the award plaque, which is currently hanging in the Air Station's Military Clothing store aboard the Air Station.

The employees at military clothing appreciate the recognition, and they work hard to maintain a high standard of service, according to Sgt. Andrew Kirchert, the supervisor for the Air Station Military Clothing store.

“I've been with MCCS for two months,” Kirchert said. “All the employees work just as hard as any Marine I've ever worked with.”

The objective of incentive programs, and the offering of awards like the Spirit and Pride is to help bolster sales so that MCCS can put more funding into programs for Marines, according to Miller.

“MCCS employees can take a tremendous amount of pride based on excellence in service to our Marines,” Miller said. “We're here because you're here, so it means a lot.”

Being able to provide award-winning service and achieve recognition may be an honor, but it is not a one-person job, according to Allen.

“The award is recognition to everyone connected with the retail operations, from the custodial staff and maintenance to the front line employees and their supervisors,” Allen said. “It takes a total team effort to achieve the goals of the organization.”
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