April is “Volunteer Month” so NNSA is applauding the members of our team who lend a helping hand to give back to their communities throughout the year. These exceptional employees help carry out our national security missions, and they also choose to spend their spare time serving in another way.
Sue Marlais, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s deputy chief information officer, gets some help with her volunteer efforts from her partner Cheryl Collins (also a Lab employee) and their two adopted Chihuahua mixes, Bella and Jack. They are on a mission to spread smiles and unconditional love.
Marlais’ family volunteers with Valley Humane Society’s Canine Comfort program, which brings certified therapy dogs to senior centers and hospice facilities in the Tri-Valley. They also visit schools to comfort students during finals.
“It’s incredible. As soon as you walk in with them, the patients light up,” Marlais said. “Whether they’re a hospice patient or a senior patient, they are so happy to see the dogs. You see them come to life. When we first walk in the room, there’s sadness, and then when the dogs come in, there’s all this happiness.”
Heather Priest of the Nevada National Security Site is an avid advocate for a number of different causes. She volunteers to feed the homeless, walks for cures, organizes food and clothing drives, and much more.
“Volunteering means a lot to me, and I cannot express how fulfilling it is,” said Priest, who shares a lot of her volunteer time with her daughter, Meghan. “There are so many things people need, and sometimes it is just a smile or a hug. I hope to continue volunteering for years to come.”
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory materials scientist Ramprashad (“Ram”) Prabhakaran teaches a Junior Achievement (JA) class at Carmichael Middle School in Richland, Washington.
It's Ram's third year volunteering in the program and Junior Achievement selected him as JA volunteer of the month in November 2017.
Wallis Spangler, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) Senior Vice President of NNSA Operations and Programs, has a multi-year affiliation with the Central Savannah River Area Heart Walk. Spangler served as the chairman this year and in 2015, as well as executive sponsor for SRNS employee participation.
“I’m very fortunate that in my family we don’t have a history of heart disease, but I’ve lost a boss and an employee who both died from heart attacks. The Heart Walk is so important, not only because it raises much-needed funds, but it also increases awareness,” said Spangler.
Spangler walked with more than 250 SRNS employees in this year’s community-wide Heart Walk, which benefits the American Heart Association. SRNS employee efforts under his leadership raised more than $86,000.
Employees at the Kansas City National Security Campus are generous with their volunteer time. But Lillian Cooper, Senior IT Manager, has taken that passion for volunteering to the next level.
For more than 25 years, she has donated her time to various science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) outreach activities such as the regional Department of Energy Science Bowl and “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” to encourage students to excel in math and science and pursue careers in these fields.
Cooper’s volunteer efforts are not exclusively STEM-focused. She works closely with Harvesters, the local food bank, to provide lower-income students with food. Cooper also organizes hot meals for hundreds of “Christmas in October” volunteers as they work to revitalize lower-income homes in the community.
“I hate to be bored on the weekend so what’s a better way to fill my time than to impact someone else’s life in a positive way?” said Cooper.