USO Volunteer of the Quarter: Mary Lykins

The USO has countless dedicated volunteers, and each quarter we honor someone who has embodied the dedication and support we know that all our volunteers strive to give daily. This year’s first Volunteer of the Quarter is Mary Lykins from Ohio with a total of over 180 volunteer hours. Even though Mary suffered significant challenges with her health, this devoted and detail-oriented volunteer bounced back better than ever.

Mary Lykins joined the USO Wright-Patterson roster in summer 2021. She worked several different kinds of shifts, including a care package building event for airmen in isolation at Wright-Patterson Airforce Base, which she remembers fondly. Unfortunately, that same summer, Mary’s health took a severe downturn, and she was forced to leave in-person volunteering behind for nearly two years.

She was diagnosed with cancer and bore the brunt of a difficult treatment regimen through the second half of 2021, all of 2022 and the second half of 2023. Throughout this time, she kept in touch with USO staff and fellow volunteers, talking about how much she looked forward to returning to volunteering. Her illness did not stop her from keeping busy at home. She single-handedly prepared several dozen favors for our Airman’s Valentine’s Day Party in February 2023, and several hundred gift boxes for Nurse Appreciation week in April 2023.

Fast-forward to July 2023 and she’s been back in action since. In fact, between October 1, 2023, and February 20, 2024, Mary collected 61 volunteer hours, putting her in the top 6% of all USO Wright-Patterson volunteers during that period. She regularly worked one shift per week and occasionally even two. Her favorites shifts are weekday mornings when she gets to arrive early and prep the center for the day to come. She is well liked by her fellow early birds.

Besides working shifts, Mary is always looking for other ways she can help. Fellow volunteer, Toni Chambers who has known Mary for nearly 60 years and who recruited her to volunteer at the USO says, “she’s always antsy and always a do-er!”

Most recently, Mary took ownership of the 2024 unveiling of the USO Wright-Patterson’s chocolate fountain – a focal point of the annual Airman’s Valentine’s Day party. On the day of the party, she prepped and beautifully plated all the ingredients, creating an appetizing display for this year’s event.

Unfortunately, earlier this month, Mary found out that her cancer had returned, and she will begin a new course of treatment on March 5, 2024. She will again be unavailable to volunteer with us for at least several months, but we look forward to her healthy return as soon as she is able!

Where does Mary’s passion for volunteering with the USO come from? She grew up in an Air Force family and has always felt connected to the military. She enjoys volunteering at the USO and has made a lot of friends. She says that the foundation of her mental well-being is helping others. She says, “I firmly believe we are put here to do that.”

Interested in volunteering at the USO and making a difference in the lives of the people who serve and their families? Check out: Volunteer · United Service Organizations ( for more information.

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