Angel Blog

Meet A 2023-2024 Defense award Champion, Jana Evans

We are proud to share that Soldiers’ Angels San Antonio Area Manager Jana Evans has received a 2023-2024 Defense Community Champion Award for her work!

Created by the Association of Defense Communities, the Defense Community Champions program recognizes individuals who make a difference in their defense communities as leaders on base, in communities, and across local governments and industry. These community champions go above and beyond to make meaningful connections with military members, communities, and veterans in their community.

“As the San Antonio Area Manager for Soldiers’ Angels, Evans supports 50 Veterans Affairs sites with community support and food distribution. She regularly attends city and nonprofit meetings to inform San Antonio about Soldiers’ Angels and opportunities to support through volunteerism and donations.” – Association of Defense Communities website

Jana’s role at Soldiers’ Angels

Jana has been with Soldiers’ Angels since April 2022. In that time, she has taken the reigns and become a driving force in San Antonio when it comes to supporting the Military community. As the San Antonio Area Manager, Jana is in charge of all the local support efforts we engage in with Veterans, Active Duty Service Members, and their families.

“I’m in charge of all support to Veterans, Active Duty Military, and their families [in San Antonio]. That includes making sure my team of volunteers is built out, and we can support not only the [Audie Murphy] VA but also the Military community. Since August of last year, we have been moving into the community. So, we are not just working with the VA system but also with our local Military bases to identify ways we can support them. That might be through events or supply donations. We also work with local organizations that serve Veterans so that way we can collaborate to reach even more of the Veteran community – especially at-risk and homeless Veterans. I am also in charge of the [San Antonio] Military & Veteran Food Distribution, making sure those events run smoothly each month so we can feed over 250 Military and Veteran families,” says Jana.

Memorable accomplishments

Jana’s role in the San Antonio community is big, and thanks to her team of dedicated volunteers and other Soldiers’ Angels staff, we are able to do a lot to support the Military community. We asked her to share a few memorable accomplishments. Here’s what she had to say.

“One of the biggest things we did in 2023 was our Polytrauma Transitional Rehab garden project. The Polytrauma Rehab Center is a local VA physical and occupational therapy facility. They used to have a garden but no one was able to keep up with it once Covid hit. They asked us if we could help restore their garden so we decided to do it even bigger this time. We worked with their leadership and Soldiers’ Angels volunteer Pat Jopling, who has a degree in horticulture. Together, we taught the staff and patients sustainability, giving them something to do while there, a relaxing place to be outdoors, and still get their therapy. They can also cook and enjoy food from the garden and come together in community.”

This is just one example of many, and Jana is very proud of her team.

“I’m just really, really proud of my team. They’ve done a really good job and their passion and dedication is awesome. No matter what we throw at them, they’re always down. They’re always asking ‘Who can we help? What’s next?’ They’re always willing to hop in where needed to fill a role. I’ve been able to cross-train a lot of them. It’s just a great team and we all have the same goal: to serve. I’m just very, very lucky. I just feel like it’s easy to lead them because they’re just a great group,” says Jana.

Winning the award

Jana is a very humble person, so naturally, when we asked her about winning this award, she started talking about all of the amazing volunteers who work with her.

“It’s a huge shock. I’ve been doing nonprofit work for 12 years now, so serving is second nature to me. Sometimes you don’t realize the impact you’re making because you’re just used to it. It’s nice to be recognized but that’s not why I do it. I think it’s great because I feel like my team deserves to know that we as a team have made an impact and people are noticing. When you are in the day-to-day, the things you’re doing seem small, but they are not small because they add up to a bigger impact,” says Jana.

Jana is one of sixteen award recipients who received the Defense Community Champion Award for their local communities. From those sixteen, three will be chosen to win a National award for their service based on connection, impact, and awareness. Stay tuned as we await the results!

If you’re interested in getting involved in our boots-on-the-ground volunteer work, learn more here. Volunteers in the areas we serve help with food distributions, patient visits, luncheons and events, and other things that support the Military community.