Joyce Lorch

Branch: Coast Guard

Duty Station: Coast Guard District 17

Number of Deployments: 8

Number of PCS's: 5

Share your military spouse story:
It was by God's grace that I became a military spouse. I can never praise him enough for the life he's blessed me with. The amazing friends I've met a crossed the country and the places I've not only got to see but live are breathtaking. In life I try to help people like Jesus did while he was on this earth.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Base Kodiak has an amazing outreach program run by the church. I was blessed last year to run their Daddy-Daughter Dance with the help of the spouses group. The Spouses Association of Kodiak also has so many unique opportunities to help. I've been blessed to help run the Stiles-Clark auction, which funds; Santa to the Villages program, the scholarship program, and donates all the extra proceeds to community charities. This last Christmas I helped run Santa to the Villages, a program that delivered Christmas gifts to 150 children living in the remote fishing villages here on Kodiak island. With the help of Air Station Kodiak, the Spouses Association has been able to keep this tradition going for 47 years! I'm humbled to be just a small part in keeping this tradition alive.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
Living on "The Rock" here in Alaska can get very isolating. The base chapel families work together once a month to provide a home cooked meal for service members living in the barracks. The Chaplin also has the Naomi Outreach program that delivers good will and cookies to the passing ships that stop on the rock. Besides cooking and baking for the chapel I also work as a Sunday school teacher. I help with the spouses association with their many amazing programs. I try my best to see the needs of the people around me and help. I watch tired moms kids, give rides to those who need it, befriend the lonely, and help where I can.

Describe how you support your community:
I jumping in with both feet everywhere we move. Children our are future and I try to help where I can to support their growth! At AWANAS they let me cooking for over 100 kids once a month. This is open to any family in need without strings to attend their program. Scouting has been a part of our society since 1912, helping grow self reliant adults. So helping with Cub Scouts as a committee member and a den leader is an honor I humbly take on. Teachers need support in our schools, the PTSA helps provide the supplies our budget cuts can't, serving as the treasurer for our middle school PTSA is a small way I can help them get the supplies needed to enrich young minds. We are a foster family in our current area, taking in a range of children. Supporting other foster families by watching their kids when they need a break or helping give rides. The 31 Backpack program is an amazing outreach I got involved in to help feed the children going hungry in our local community.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I'm a big advocate for the foster care system. Children that are neglected and abused need our help! Our military life gives us great tools that these children can learn from. We learn to be resilient during transfers; independent when our spouse is deployed; supportive to everyone around us; resourceful in unexpected situations; and adapt to new places and people. Being a role model for these children is such a blessing! They, like us are thrown into a new situation with ties to an old one, just like transfer season. We may only stay in a place for a few years but these children may only need a small amount of time to be truly helped. Life long relationships are forged this way too, maybe you become the long distance friend that remembers their birthday or the only person that cheers on their successes. These small acts can change a life and we have the power to do that!

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Actively telling my story about fostering has helped 5 new families find their way to our local office.. I have found that many people have misconceptions about fostering, from the time it takes to get certified too thinking children are to hard to deal with. I can tell you every situation is different but with the desperate need for good foster homes the agencies are working well to make the process smoother. Hard kids are placed with experienced homes, with the necessary skills to help. Fostering doesn't have to be a long term commitment, if you feel called to help, give it what you can. Simple getting certified to just give foster families a small break would be a tremendous help!

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
I pray that at least one person reads my story and decides they have the ability to help in some small way, and they do. We can only change the world one small act at a time.