SOSA: The 2014 Winners

AF Bureau

Sgt. Kyle Romero
Accra, Ghana

Sgt. Romero, a Marine Security Guard in Accra, provided a variety of community aid and outreach programs while posted in Ghana. He volunteered at the Children of Light and Haven of Hope orphanages during his time with the Marine Security Guard Detachment in Accra.  Sgt. Romero provided property maintenance, tutoring services, and distribution of material goods such as clothing, food, school materials, and hygiene items to the children in the orphanages.

During the holiday season, Sgt. Romero provided assistance with the annual Christmas Program by drafting scripts for the play, helping with props and hosting the Toys for Tots program, which provided toys and parcels for more than 120 children. He put together a video of the various activities he was involved in at the orphanages and shared it with Embassy personnel and friends and family back home. He raised $500 which was donated to the Children of Light and will aid in the completion of their school’s construction.

Additionally, Sgt. Romero volunteered to be a motivational speaker at the Liberty American School.  He spoke enthusiastically of the Marines’ Corps vales of striving to live by noble morals and proper ethics.

EUR Bureau

Kerry Carswell
Sofia, Bulgaria

Kerry Carswell, spouse of Bruce Carswell, Army Attaché, volunteered and led the Friends of Lopyan charity group for two years while posted in Sofia. The charity supports a school and boarding house for disadvantaged children in Lopyan, a small rural village about 90 minutes east of Sofia. Kerry is credited with her enthusiastic leadership, encouraging attitude and helpful nature for bringing the charity group to another level by engaging more people from the embassy community.

During her two years with Friends of Lopyan, Kerry led approximately seven embassy trips to visit the school and boarding house, where the group would bring material goods, provide fun weekend activities and holiday cheer.  Through various fundraising activities, Kerry helped raise more than $4,000 which was used to secure medicine, clothes, school supplies and more. She also led a campaign to purchase 20 radiators, which will provide much-needed heat during the cold winters. Additionally, she coordinated with a local shoe company to provide new shoes to all 180-plus children. And lastly, Kerry worked with the Humanitarian Assistance Program to launch a project to build a new kitchen facility for the children.

SCA Bureau

Shilpa Gadde
New Delhi

Shilpa Gadde, the spouse of Patrick Gadde, DHS, founded Rescue without Borders, an organization that rescues injured, sick, orphaned and special needs dogs in India. Shilpa, an avid animal lover, spent time and energy in the United States rescuing feral kittens and dogs and volunteering at local animal shelters. When her husband’s job brought them to New Delhi, she knew immediately she had to help the street dogs in India. She has partnered with local veterinarians to provide emergency care to injured dogs. Once the dogs are healthy, Shilpa and others work on rehabilitating the dogs and training them so they can be adopted in the United States and Canada.

Shilpa has formed a network of foster families and volunteers throughout the Northeast to assist in the rescue operation. Rescue without Borders  provides a forum for Shilpa to share news about recently rehabilitated dogs and adopted dogs.   Additionally, Shilpa has created online advertising and fundraising campaigns to promote animal adoptions and has worked diligently to create awareness of the plight of the street dogs in developing countries and promote adoption.

 WHA Bureau

Jose Ramirez Dorce, Fernando Marcelo Alvarez, and Liana Maria Alvarez
Mexico City, Mexico

Jose Ramirez Dorce, Fernando Marcelo Alvarez and Liana Maria Alvarez, spouses of FSOs, founded “Zapatos Rotos” (“Broken Shoes”) to help disadvantaged children in Mexico City. The organization was created out of a desire to assist the children of “Centro de Atencion Multiple #48,” a school for physically and mentally challenged children.

As Jose, Fernando and Liana got to know the children and families at the school, they were better able to assess the children’s needs. The group engaged with local businesses and individuals, encouraging them to get involved in philanthropic efforts, a relatively new concept in Mexico.

The result was outstanding.  Businesses agreeing to participate included Starbucks, which provides breakfast for the children and caretakers twice a month; MVS Radio Foundation, which provided hearing aids; and El Despertar, which offers equestrian therapy once a month for a group of seven children.  Through the creation of their professional-quality website,; the group has created a lasting tool to encourage future embassy and local community members to stay involved.