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Sep 18, 2019 2:09:11 PM

What Makes a Five Star Family?

Five Star Logo_crop

Here in Hampton Roads, we are surrounded by military families making a difference in their communities. We have the highest concentration of military personnel outside of the Pentagon. Our schools, churches and other non-profit organizations are regularly benefiting from the time and dedication of military members and their families. According to the 2018 Blue Star Families Military Lifestyle Survey, 71% of military families reported volunteer activity in the last twelve months. Of those who regularly volunteer, 83% reported volunteerism in civilian communities. 

The Five Star Military Family Recognition Luncheon is our opportunity to express our gratitude to the families who go above and beyond in their service to our local community. 

These families work tirelessly; behind the scenes, before the sun rises, after everyone else has cleared out for the day and even when they are exhausted after their full-time job serving our country. They show up when asked and stay until the job is finished. We are so grateful to live and work in a community supported by families like this. Do you know a family who deserves to be honored for their service to our Hampton Roads community? Nominate them to be recognized at this year's 25th anniversary event with keynote speaker, Admiral Christopher W. Grady.


Each year, five families are recognized at the luncheon: one from each branch of service. Do you want to know what a Five Star Family looks like? Take a look at last year's Five Star Military Family Honorees...

SSGT Matthew Rutkowski USArmy-1

UNITED STATES ARMY - SSgt Rutkowski & Family 

Staff Sergeant Matthew Rutkowski and his wife Annessa are very active in the community and the lives of their three sons, Matthew Jr., Oscar and Benjamin. Matthew volunteered over 200 hours in the eighteen months leading up to last year’s ceremony with six different organizations. In addition to volunteering for Poquoson Little League and Fire and Rescue, he also organizes blood drives for the American Red Crossvolunteers time at his church and mentors teens and young men as a DeMolay Advisor. Matthew and Annessa also participate in fundraisers to help others in need and to teach their sons about the importance of giving back. Annessa also volunteers coordinating field trips for patients of Bayside Children’s Therapy. 

Ryan Jacques USMC


Lance CorporaRyan Jacques and his wife Emma have made it their mission to work with and assist service members and their families in our community. Emma began her volunteer work with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and quickly became a regular fixture working with Marine families. She is a LINKS (Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills) Mentor and assists with family team building and community services. Both Ryan and Emma have a passion for volunteering and for motivating those around them to invest in their community. 

 PO1 Christopher Szkaradnik USN

UNITED STATES NAVY – QM1 Szkaradnik & Family 

Quarter Master First Class Christopher Szkaradnik and his wife Brittany, along with their children Henry, Charlotte and Atticus, have dedicated themselves to supporting their community through volunteerism. Chris and Brittany are both Sunday School teachers and committed parents. Chris is the Cubmaster for his oldest son and daughter’s Cub Scout Pack while Brittany is the Committee Chair. They organize camping trips, fundraisers and learning opportunities for the Scouts. They’ve organized food drives for the local food kitchen and donation drives for community members in need. They working on installing Little Free Libraries throughout Norfolk while still making time for beach clean-ups, leadership training and mentorship opportunities.  

SSGT Gabriel Aikens USAF


Staff Sergeant Gabriel Aikens and his wife Dadirai are both committed to investing in their community. Gabriel works with the Peninsula Food Bank delivering food to at-risk families and senior citizens. Gabriel is committed to mentorship and belongs to two organizations that mentor youth in our community, the Tuskeegee Airmen, Inc., and Brothers on the Block. He also assists the Tuskeegee Airmen, Inc. with fundraising efforts and scholarship awards. Dadirai prepares meals for families who attend Hampton Roads Fellowship Church as they welcome home new babies. 

PO3 Barbara Davis USCG-1


Yeoman Third Class Barbara Davis, her husband Robert and her two children Dominic and Aidan have a history of providing selfless support to their local community. In addition to the title of Yeoman Third Class, Barbara serves as PTA President for Botetourt Elementary School and Cheer Commissioner for the Gloucester Outlaws Football and Cheer team. In both additional roles, Barbara has raised funds, increased awareness and support and contributed to the overall wellbeing of hundreds of students and families. Her husband and children are consistently at her side volunteering at events, supporting fundraising efforts and helping out wherever needed.