Winter 2019 Volunteer of the Quarter: Karen Stroup

Karen is known as “the one who signs up for everything” among the USO Stuttgart Volunteers. She brings fun to each event because you never know what costume she might show up in.

When Karen and her family arrived in Stuttgart in 2019, they experienced several awesome USO community events. She knew then she had to join the force behind the forces and be part of the fun. She did just that and boy did she jump right in!

The first impression you get of Karen is her warm and welcoming personality. She is the type of person who can carry on a conversation with anyone. This welcoming approach is the same approach she applies to each of our programs and toward our guests as well. You may often think the person she is talking to is someone she has known for a while, only to discover, she just met them right there on the spot. A conversation after the fact might go like this, “She was sweet. Where do you know her from?” Karen will reply, “From right here right now.” Customer service is such a vital part of our events and Karen makes every person participating in our events feel like part of the family. Her experience as a business owner brings a welcome perspective to the strategic planning of our events. She’s always on board for some fun, but also never shies away from letting us know if a fun idea may need some tweaking to make it realistic. While her business sense helps in the planning process, her fun side shines through at each event. You never know what Karen might show up wearing. She goes the extra mile and dresses up for many events regardless of the German stares she may endure as she public transits over. In support of Merry Magic and Pictures with Santa, Karen showed up dressed as an elf. Anyone with a tiny cold grinch heart would be hard pressed to resist smiling at her grinch get up for Grinch Family Movie Day . To help us celebrate our 79th birthday, Karen dressed in 40’s attire. Regardless of what outfit she puts on, one accessory she always wears is a friendly smile. The 30 events for which Karen has volunteered have touched nearly 9,000 lives in the USAG Stuttgart Community. In addition to working events, Karen has begun to volunteer for Volunteer Orientation as well. Her story of how she came to volunteer here and why she loves it, is very relatable to prospective volunteers.

Not only is Karen a great representative of the USO mission while volunteering at events, she continues that mission as she networks in the community. Whether meeting people in person, or on social media, she is continually recruiting volunteers for the team. She also does a great job of spreading the joyful news of our wonderful events we are hosting in the community. On social media, we can count on Karen to let anyone looking for something to do know that we are the place to be. It’s like having our own cheerleader out in the community.

Whether it is baking muffins, manning games in the cold, crafting with kids, passing out coffee around base, cleaning up spills, squeezing frosting on cookies with kids or cutting out hundreds of hearts, Karen is dedicated to helping us create events that keep service members in Stuttgart connected to family, home and country. Karen is an amazing member of the USAG Stuttgart Community and we are thankful she has chosen to Be The Force Behind The Forces at USO Stuttgart. #BeTheForce

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