(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
"At first, it was about being there and being a part of what my husband was doing," said Adams, whose husband, Donald, was a Guard member. Her dad also belonged, and her son, Daniel, later joined.
With her son, it was the thought "knowledge is power," that kept her involved. Now, it's the feeling of helping people out and relieving their stress that keeps her going.
And in July, at the 2007 National Guard Family Program Conference in Chicago, Ill., she received the highest honor a civilian can receive through the Guard -- the Conspicuous Service Medal.
"I was so shocked," said Adams. "I didn't even know it existed."
The award was presented by Maj. Gen. King Sidwell, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, when he took the group out to dinner one night, said Adams.
"He asked me to come forward and he thanked me, and gave me the medal," she said. "I was flabbergasted."
She's quite proud of the award. In fact, it's framed and displayed in her office at the Tanner Street Church of God, which already has a patriotic theme.
And she should be. Gail Schrimpf, executive assistant to Sidwell, spoke of the honor associated with the award.
"It is the only award that can be given to civilians," Schrimpf said, noting that it is not given annually. It can also be presented to military members, and is for "anyone who has done something for the National Guard or the state or for their assistance to the Guard."
"(Adams) was nominated by the Family Program office for all the work she has done as a volunteer," Schrimpf continued. That recommendation was made to Sidwell, who in turn recommended her to Gov. Matt Blunt, who signed off on the medal, for Adams to receive.
Adams began her service with the FRG as a volunteer, but was eventually asked by the commander to be the lead volunteer for the 1221st in 2002.
"But after the guys went to Iraq and came back, I stepped back," said Adams.
In the meantime, however, officials in Jefferson City asked her to be on the Missouri National Guard state advisory council, which she joined in 2005.
That means that instead of helping the members of one armory, all of the lead volunteers for armories from DeSoto to Caruthersville to Doniphan report to her.
"Their main concern is taking care of the families," Adams said of the FRGs. "When a soldier is gone -- no matter how long -- situations can arise."
Adams said that with all of the programs offered to the families of soldiers who are serving, none should lack anything.
"There should be enough there to take care of everyone," she said. That's a big change from when she joined in 1990, when it was just starting up, with fewer programs, she noted.
Sometimes people are just stressed and need to know where to go and who to talk to. Other times, families experience more serious problems -- all of which Adams and other volunteers can help solve.
"We have an answer for everything," said Adams. "I tell them I can fix everything but their heart."
The National Guard is always in need of volunteers, and Adams urged others to donate their time. The time is flexible, and all anyone needs to do is contact the local armory, she said.
"If you're a giving person that wants to help, there is a job out there for you," said Adams. "Any time that you want to give, you can be used."