2011 Military Spouse of the Year Bianca Strzalkowski
2011 Military Spouse of the Year - Bianca Strzalkowski
It’s never easy to choose a winner of the 2011 Military Spouse of the Year award. There are so many worthy candidates, and our roster of finalists this year was a truly stellar one. But if you ever cross paths with Bianca Strzalkowski (stra-KOW-skee), or if you hear about her from those she devotes hours to helping, you’ll probably agree: Bianca, our Marine Corps finalist, is a perfect choice for this award. And she’s a credit to this family.
Maybe you’re a new mother who has opened your front door to find Bianca, smiling, holding a fabulous home-cooked meal. Or maybe you belong to the extended family that is Bianca’s unit, which she supports by producing a newsletter filled with updates and good advice. Or maybe you’ve been touched by Bianca’s work as a LINKS mentor or her efforts as sole volunteer of the Recruiting Station Raleigh’s Family Readiness Program. Or maybe you’ve never met her at all. You could be any military spouse, anywhere, and Bianca would still consider you family.
“One of the things I love most about being a military spouse is that I can go anywhere in the world and have an instant bond with anyone who loves or has loved someone in the military,” she says. “Military spouses are the only ones who truly understand how commitment to that service will push you through the hardships of sacrifice.”
She calls the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy “the largest extended family in the world.” And she takes her duty to that family very seriously.
She doesn't see the unique identity and culture of each military branch as an obstacle to helping each other. “We share,” she says, “an unspoken loyalty.”
The centerpiece of Bianca’s family life is her husband, Gunnery Sgt. Ronald Strzalkowski, and their three boys who range in age from teen to toddler. In addition to caring for them, she is also a full-time student and an avid volunteer. She acknowledges the many hard parts of military life and is reminded of them practically every day as she helps other spouses with their struggles.
But her outlook is resoundingly, genuinely positive.
Military Life Suits Her
“I am an independent dependent,” she says. “Raised from strong Italian women, I was taught in order to be the best person I could be I have to first be an individual. I’m passionate about writing, but my competitive nature chose business for my major.”
Bianca is an interesting hybrid: a groundbreaker who also thrives on tradition. “Every Sunday,” she says, “I make an Italian feast hoping to recreate my Grandma’s gravy.”
Where does she find the energy to do so much? As for so many of you, it begins at home.
“My children make me want to invest in my community to make it a better place for them. The key foundation to my life has been being a Marine Corps wife; I loved my Marine before he stepped on those yellow footprints. The immense pride I have in my husband’s service has led me on this journey of volunteerism,” she says. “I devote my last energy to improve the quality of life of others.”
Her other secret weapon, one she’s happy to share, is this: “I would stress that perfection is unnecessary in life.” Bianca’s goal as a military spouse is to do as much good as possible, rather than obsessing on doing just a few things flawlessly.
We love it, and we can't wait to see how she'll spend her time as your 2011 Military Spouse of the Year.
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