Sailor answers the call, wins volunteer award

Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Ariel Thornberry receives the Above and Beyond Award, July 17.

Story and photo by Erin Huggins

Joint Base

Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs

Tisa Marie Canlas found herself in a dilemma. She needed assistance with everyday grooming, chores and caring for her service dog. Health issues and multiple surgeries over the past few years, as well as her children growing up and moving out of the house, had made independent life challenging for Canlas.

In the past, when people were in need, they would reach out for assistance at their church, in their neighborhood, or directly with their friends. In 2018, our lives, our church, our neighbors, and our friends are all on social media. Canlas decided to put the call out for help with a mass email to her classmates. Her classmates answered back.

A classmate and friend of Canlas saw the message. As the story goes with the internet, friends talk with friends and the web of connections eventually led to Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Ariel Thornberry.

It was mostly her love of animals, particularly dogs, that caused Thorn-berry to be interested in helping this stranger and her service dog. She reached out to Canlas immediately and they agreed to meet the next day.

After meeting with Canlas and Rascal the service dog, Thornberry agreed to help. Canlas’s insurance company was supposed to help pay for Thornberry’s services, but the insurance company denied the claim.

Having volunteered her whole life, working for free wasn’t anything new for Thornberry. Once she got to know Canlas, they quickly became friends.

After completing her shift at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) Base Security, Thornberry would travel to Canlas’s home to perform everything from service dog care to helping Canlas brush her hair. Despite the lack of pay, she couldn’t leave a friend in need.

“I was raised to help when I saw people in need,” Thornberry said.

“I did it and four to five months later, her insurance finally gave her the service she needed, and she chose to keep me as her personal care assistant.”

Canlas decided to nominate her friend for the Above and Beyond Award.

The award is given by partnering organizations to members of the community that go above and beyond the call of duty.

“I nominated her multiple times,” Canlas said. “She helped me so much, that I can’t begin to convey how grateful I am for her unconditional efforts. (She is) family now.”

Trying to keep the award a secret, Canlas and Thornberry’s coworkers discretely set up a banner and a small awards ceremony at the JBPHH Base Security building. The radio station wanted to present the award before Thornberry’s afternoon shift started.

“I am beyond honored to be able to accept this award and that Tisa nominated me for it. With or without this award, I will still continue to help out and volunteer.”

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Category: News