USA Cares Names Volunteer of the Year

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Michigan Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association member awes this Kentucky-based national nonprofit

Larry Rink

Went to a meeting and there were all these strangers who wanted to help!

By day, he is working hard to produce the world’s best known military vehicle, the Humvee. But the rest of his time, when he isn’t working for AM General he has USA Cares on his mind. And when this guy has something on his mind, he makes things happen.

In 2008, when Larry Rink was elected as the Detroit Chapter President of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) he recommended to his chapter that they take on USA Cares as their chapter’s primary charitable focus and pledge $50,000 to be used to assist Michigan service members, Veterans and their families. They all agreed, and invited USA Cares founder Roger Stradley and Founding Board Member, Jim Marquardt to come to Detroit and tell them more about the charity. Rink had first heard of USA Cares when he was at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting in 2008, and had been invited as part of the AM General team to attend a private reception with USA Cares National Spokesman, 9 time Emmy winner, comedian Dennis Miller.

During that reception, Miller spoke about his trust of the mission and the people behind USA Cares and, after more personal investigation, Rink knew that he wanted to do more.
During his year as President, he created fund-raising opportunities from Red Shirt Friday’s, to dinners and Bocce Ball with the Michigan Chapter of Women in Defense. They put their hearts into the project and bowled over their self-imposed goal of $10,000. The pledge he had made of raising $50,000 was more than fulfilled.

Rink also had wheels in mind; Motorcycle wheels. So he called a few more friends and, as he put it in his words, “Went to a meeting and there were all these strangers who wanted to help!” and 1st Annual Charity Cruise was developed that ended up including Pratt & Miller, a motorcycle cruise, and ending at the DTE Music Theater and attending a concert with Foreigner, Styx and Kansas. And even though the event was challenged by storms including tornadoes, the faithful pulled it off in grand style, closing out with a resounding, “We have to do this again!”

In July of 2010, after relinquishing his position as President, he approached the Board of Directors of the Michigan NDIA Chapter and proposed they take on the Cruise again, and the board agreed.

Executive Director of USA Cares, Bill Nelson remarked, “We have hundreds of Volunteers across America, and every now and then, someone shows up that is beyond the pale in terms of determination to help us, help the thousands who come to us for assistance, and Larry is one of those.” Nelson also remarked, “It wasn’t the fact that he raised money for USA Cares, it was because of the nature of his desire to do the best and to bring USA Cares to his friends and families”.

The spirit and selfless service that Rink displayed over the 18 months and evidence of his commitment to USA Cares earned him the first annual presentation of National Volunteer of the Year, 2009-2010.
During a Dennis Miller Show at the Chicago Theatre on September 24, Rink was presented with the award by USA Cares Board of Director Dennis Cortes and Founder Roger Stradley in front of the 3,000 in attendance.

About USA Cares
USA Cares is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that helps post 9/11 military families bear the burdens of service with financial and advocacy support. Its mission: To help with basic needs during financial crisis, to assist combat injured Veterans and their families and to prevent private military home foreclosures and evictions. In seven years, USA Cares has received over 24,000 requests and responded with more than $7.3 million in grants. Military families anywhere in America can apply for assistance through the USA Cares web site, http://www.usacares.org/ or by calling 1-800-773-0387. For more information on USA Cares contact John Revell, jrevell(at)usacares(dot)org or call (270) 352-5451 x101.

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John Revell
USA Cares
270.352.5451 x101
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