Guardsman defines 'service before self' through community work
By Tech. Sgt. Eugene Crist, 130th Airlift Wing, 130th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 21, 2017
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As Guardsmen, we talk often about how we live and serve in our communities and in the defense of our nation. Every year, we summarize our accomplishments and service into bullet statements for performance evaluations, but often, those statements don’t always result in tangible change for our communities and for the people we live near and work with. Senior Master Sgt. Kevan Williams, a safety technician with the 130th Airlift Wing, has embodied the value of service before self that has made profound impact in his community that goes beyond a bullet statement.
The Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who performed outstanding volunteer community service of a sustained, direct and consequential nature. On Sept. 16, 2017, Williams was awarded this medal for his selfless service to his fellow community members over the past year.
While doing outreach ministries for those in need in his community, Williams and his peers discovered those in desperate need of outreach, which included utility and home repair. With the help of his church members, including associate pastor Don Kinder, youth pastor Mikey Means and Don Cossin, the group was able to gather together to provide the labor, materials and perform the necessary repairs. The group even pitched in to purchase groceries during hard times for community members and puts forth sincere efforts to help those in need live more comfortably.
“The success of everything I aspire to attain or achieve is solely dependent on the strength of my relationship with God and my relationships with mankind,” Williams said about his service to the community. “I don't feel like I did anything, it was the members of my family here at Living Faith Church that came together to do these things. I was just the facilitator who brought the people together to get it done.”
While that is one example of Williams helping families in need, at his church, he built and organized a clothing closet and collected donations for the community to give away. After completion of the project, he then decided to develop a community event to pass out the clothing before the start of the new school year and worked with local hairdressers and barbers to arrange for free haircuts, as well. In all, more than 45 families were provided three new outfits, undergarments, shoes and haircuts at no cost to the family because of his efforts.
“Every church needs a Kevan Williams,” said Lead Pastor of Living Faith Church Mark Thomas. “He is faithful, hardworking, humble, and a good communicator. Everything he does he does at 110 percent. He leads a bible study in his home, serves on the praise and worship team as a guitar player, servers on the board of the church, and leads a men’s bible study at the church. Kevan’s heart is truly with his church and his fellow man.”
Through his service, Williams has extended help to many families in need - whether it be a helping hand cutting the grass, providing basic home repairs or organizing fundraisers for needy families.
When the state was ravaged by historic flooding in 2016, Williams once again rose to the occasion to help his neighbors and Guard family. After working his full-time job, he joined a group from Living Faith Church to volunteer to clean out homes destroyed by flood waters in Clendenin, West Virginia, one of which was a fellow Air National Guard member’s home. He went above and beyond by helping to replace destroyed shadowboxes and ensuring the individual’s uniforms were dry cleaned and wearable.
"Kevan cares about people and devotes himself to empowering and inspiring others. When I learned about the ‘Clothe the Kids’ event he organized for his community, I knew we needed to recognize him for all he does beyond the end of his duty day,” said Maj. Bente Simerman, II, 130th Airlift Wing Chief of Safety. “He is an outstanding Airman and leader, and I am proud to have had the opportunity to serve with him.”
Beyond his service to the community, he steps up at his unit as a mentor and leader. Williams works to mentor and council junior enlisted members and helped to organize the Charlie West Fitness Club for unit members. The fitness club recently fielded a team of 50 unit members to participate in a local run/walk benefitting cancer research.
In all, his work in both the community and at his base solidify his accolade, but it goes much further for those he has impacted. He has made a true difference as a Citizen-Airman in both of his roles in and outside the uniform.