Did you know one out of four American’s volunteer, and two out of three Americans help their neighbor, according to a study performed by The Corporation for National & Community Service. With countless reasons for volunteering, every volunteer faces a time of both challenges and rewards. The Yearly-Bird volunteer program participants give a minimum of four hours a month, 10 months out of each year. These volunteers are recognized with Day of Choice tickets to the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo, passes to Florida Attractions, and an annual banquet acknowledging their contributions throughout the year.
Just over 100 Yearly-Bird volunteers engaged in a delicious dinner, and conversations with their peers to honor the time given to the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo in the Florida Air Museum event venue on the evening of October 21, 2021. The Director of Volunteers, Robin McFarland, remarked, “ Well every year I think to myself this was the best one. This year it was about New Beginnings. I started my journey with SUN ‘n FUN as a Donor Relations Admin for Kathryn McMannis. To stand in the Atrium area of the SkyLab was so emotional since the museum was very different back then. We have made it, all of us together have accomplished what was just a dream back 18 or so years ago. To be able to share with our Yearly-Birds what a huge accomplishment we have all been a part of was so exciting. Also, to be able to actually share it with them was so gratifying. It just made the evening perfect. The Yearly-Birds were honored for their gift of time and talents. We enjoyed a great meal together and toured the SkyLab. It was a wonderful celebration for all. I encourage anyone that has time to spare to join our Yearly-Bird volunteer force.”
Volunteers were greeted and served by the Aerospace Center For Excellence (ACE) Internship program represented by 7 CFAA students, 6 Jr. Interns, and Polk State Interns. The night finished with a speech from President and CEO of SUN ‘n FUN, John “Lites” Leenhouts, who believes, “It’s so rewarding to have the opportunity in an official gathering to recognize and thank the people who throughout the year, give their most precious time to ACE and SUN ‘n FUN. They help us write the future of aviation education.”
Volunteers have helped SUN ‘n FUN get through this unique year, and have contributed in so many ways that it is impossible to name them all. As ACE begins the mission to Engage, Educate, and Accelerate the next generation of aviators, we must ensure that through our SUN ‘n FUN volunteers our future aviators begin to realize the value and impact of giving back to their communities. The Aerospace Center For Excellence Jr. Intern, Ashlee Driskell, states, “I am very proud to be a part of this community. Helping out with Sun n Fun and ACE is the best part of it. Thank you to all the volunteers for their hard-working hours of service. It was truly a night to remember.”