By Sgt. Luisito BrooksNovember 18, 2011
Staff Sgt. Michael Drake was raised in a home by parents who emphasized the importance of helping those less fortunate.
"Serving and volunteering was a big part of my upbringing," said Drake, a Concord, N.C. native. "Everybody helps everybody where I am from."
It's this selfless service attitude and many volunteer hours which earned the Drake Family the title of 2011 U.S. Military District of Washington Family of the Year, an award given annually to military Families who show superb dedication and passion for volunteerism in the community.
"I was shocked when my company commander called me on my day off with the news," said Drake, infantryman, 4th Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). "The first thing I thought about was how I felt as though we haven't done enough."
Whenever this proactive Family arrived to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., their devotion for volunteer work came with them.
"We got here about two years ago and my wife and I immediately started looking for places to volunteer," Drake said.
Drake ultimately began coaching youth soccer in the local area because of his beliefs in children staying active and healthy.
"I believe it doesn't take much to volunteer in some shape or form," he added.
Drake's wife Dana, and mother of four, lends extra time to her part-time job at the Eleanor U. Kennedy Homeless Shelter across from Fort Belvoir, Va.
"Even though I work part-time, I routinely volunteer extra shifts because they are just so understaffed," explained Dana. "Many folks that come through those doors are ex-military and through bad luck or bad decisions end up here in need of a helping hand."
Dana's strong passion to help those in need brewed from her experience as a former police officer.
"I was always willing to help somebody out rather than take them to jail or write them a ticket," she said.
Dana also volunteers with her husband's company Family Readiness Group, a command sponsored program that provides activities and support to military Families.
Between working all day and volunteering all night, the Drake Family may seem to be like two trains passing in the night, but it works for them.
"By the time I get home from practice or work, my wife is usually heading out the door," explained Drake. "It does get stressful at times, but it is worth it."
The Drake Family has not let the MDW Family of the Year award cloud their focus to help others, but has allowed it to open them up to what can be accomplished through hard work and dedication.
"Anything is possible," said Drake. "In some form or fashion, we have to do more."