Face of Defense: Grandmother Inspires Soldier to Volunteer
By Army Capt. Marvin J. Baker
120th Infantry Brigade, Division West
FORT HOOD, Texas, Feb. 27, 2012 When Army Capt. Latoya James of the 120th Infantry Brigade received the Volunteer of the Quarter award during a Feb. 16 ceremony here, it was a family affair.
Army Capt. Latoya James, right, poses for a photo with her grandmother, Lonnie Evans, left, mother, Carroll Johnson, and daughter, Chloe Amani James, after James received the volunteer of the quarter award during the Hood Hero awards ceremony at Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 16, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Marvin J. Baker
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
James’ mother and grandmother were at the ceremony, and so was her 5-month-old daughter.
“My mother and grandmother are the most giving people I know. It means a lot to me that they are all here,” James said. “I want to teach my daughter that when you give you are blessed, and you can bless others.”
James said her grandmother, who still volunteers regularly, inspired her to give back.
“When I was 8 years old, my grandmother loaded up her car … near Thanksgiving time with [dinners] of spaghetti, corn, bread and salad. Then she took me to the Salvation Army shelter in Fort Worth, Texas, where we served meals to people in a line that seemed to go forever,” James said.
“From that point on, I was inspired,” she added. “I saw the expressions on their faces and said to myself, ‘When I get old enough, I will follow in my grandmother’s footsteps and help others.’”
Over the past several years, James has traveled to the Fort Worth Salvation Army at least annually to serve meals, but now spends much of her volunteer time with the Central Texas Youth Service Option House in Killeen, Texas.
“I was afraid the first time to go to the shelter, but I learned that people aren’t born homeless,” she said. “When I put myself in their shoes, it helps me see that they are no different than I am. I think to myself, ‘That could be me.’ I would want someone to help me if they could.”
The Hood Hero awards ceremony recognizes Fort Hood soldiers, civilians and organizations for their volunteerism.