Millwood, VA, April 24, 2013

Project HOPE today awarded its inaugural Volunteer of The Year Award to pediatric nurse practitioner, Faye Pyles, of Norfolk, Virginia.  A retired U.S. Navy Captain, Ms. Pyles volunteered 696 volunteer hours with HOPE aboard the hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, last year for the entire four month sail with the Pacific Partnership mission, the Asia-Pacific region's largest civic assistance program.

Accepting the award at a special presentation at HOPE headquarters in Millwood, Virginia, Ms. Pyles expressed her passion for medical humanitarian work with Project HOPE.

“I’m delighted to accept this award. I have had the desire to work with Project HOPE from the time I saw a story on HOPE in the Weekly Reader.  I could not imagine anything more exciting than traveling the world taking care of people in underserved communities.  Upon retiring from the U.S. Navy, I was able to fulfill this childhood dream,” said Ms. Pyles.

The Award generated 700 votes from HOPE supporters nationwide.  Among other volunteers who were recognized for their outstanding contributions is Cherri Dobson, a registered nurse from Brentwood, California, who volunteered 608 hours last year on the Pacific Partnership mission.

“I specifically chose Project HOPE because of their focus on sustainability and capacity building, which I believe is the best way to cause lasting change in systems. Volunteering for Project HOPE has changed the course of my life. I now work to support my habit of volunteering every year,” said Ms. Dobson.

Dr. Lynn Bemiller, an internal medicine physician specializing in hematology and medical oncology and a retired U.S. Navy Captain, was also celebrated at the event for her tireless 763 hours of service last year with Project HOPE.

Last year alone, more than 500 HOPE volunteers from the U.S. and abroad collectively spent more than 41,000 hours assisting patients, performing surgeries and teaching people from Peru to Vietnam how to build healthier communities.  On Pacific Partnership, HOPE volunteers provided medical care aboard the Mercy, the 1,000-bed ship equipped with 12 operating rooms.  HOPE volunteers also conducted medical humanitarian missions with the U.S Air Force.  HOPE provided volunteers to land-based global health projects, deploying teams to the Dominican Republic, Tajikistan, China, Haiti, India, South Africa, Hungary and Ghana.

“We are immensely proud and inspired by our volunteers whom, for 54 years, have helped deliver health care, education, medical training and humanitarian assistance to people who need it most – striving to help people help themselves,” said John P. Howe III, M.D., President and CEO of Project HOPE.

The spectacular efforts of more than 43 HOPE volunteers were recognized in a separate distinguished award, namely the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor offered in recognition of volunteer service.

In his 2002 State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush created the USA Freedom Corps, and called on every American to make a lifelong commitment to volunteer service.  The President’s Volunteer Service Award recognizes individuals and families who have answered that call.

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