Norfolk’s Military Volunteer of the Year

     LSC(SW/AW) Gregory Bell was recognized this past May as the Military Volunteer of the Year at the 12th annual VisitNorfolk and Norfolk

NAVSUP FLC Commanding Officer, Capt. Kurt Waymire, presents LSC(SW/AW) Gregory Bell with a certificate from the city of Norfolk, Va., as the Military Volunteer of the Year.   (Photo by Bill Pointer)

NAVSUP FLC Commanding Officer, Capt. Kurt Waymire, presents LSC(SW/AW) Gregory Bell with a certificate from the city of Norfolk, Va., as the Military Volunteer of the Year.
(Photo by Bill Pointer)

Tourism Research Foundation “Champions of Hospitality Rally” at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk, Va.

     Jennifer Brown, Convention Services Manager for VisitNorfolk, nominated LSC Bell, a Leading Chief Petty Officer serving at Code 500, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Norfolk, for the award.

     For the past three years, he has coordinated a group of volunteers from NAVSUP FLC Norfolk to assist with the annual Norfolk North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Festival, the longest continuously running festival in the Hampton Roads region.  He has also volunteered to assist with Norfolk’s annual Harborfest, last year’s Operation Sail (OpSail) event, and at local men and women shelters.

     “I nominated Chief Bell because he has always stepped up and offered to assist with volunteers for our NATO Fest Parade,” Brown explained.  “He normally assists us with 20-plus volunteers and they are always extremely professional, on time, and great with our clients and attendees.  Last year Chief Bell also assisted with recruiting volunteers for OPSAIL, over a span of three days, to assist with unloading busses and walking our attendees to their seats during the Parade of Sail.”

     There were three other nominees in LSC Bell’s category, but his efforts helped him rise above the others.  “It’s a very humbling experience,” LSC Bell said.  “I never volunteered to receive any gifts or accolades, but I am honored to know that the city of Norfolk took the time out to express their appreciation for the work the Sailors and I did for them.”

     I did not win this award alone by any measure,” he added.  “It was a collective effort from all the Sailors who have assisted me the last three years, so I owe it to them.”

     The “Champions of Hospitality Rally” recognized the efforts of more than 150 individuals nominated in more than 20 categories for the important role they play as some of the best and brightest hospitality associates for their contribution to Norfolk’s tour and travel industry, and as ambassadors for the city.  The military volunteers who are involved with some of the city’s high-profile events play an important role in making them a success.  The efforts of the volunteers could yield other benefits as well.

     “Volunteer work is about selflessness and giving back to our community who admires and appreciates our service to our country,” LSC Bell said.  “It also allows us to develop a lasting positive relationship with the community, and to weed out some of the negative things that are sometimes said about Sailors.”

     “In my experience, the military plays a huge role in assisting with local events,” Brown said.  “Our visitors to the city love to see and meet them, and greatly appreciate all that they do for us, especially offering to volunteer their time when it is not required.”

     LSC Bell, along with the other award winners at the event, received a certificate from VisitNorfolk and the Norfolk Tourism Research Foundation, as well as a gift bag filled with items from local merchants.  The event also featured a spirit competition for all of the representatives there from various local hospitality businesses, which was judged by local celebrity judges.

By Jim Kohler, NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Public Affairs