Julia Apicella, education services facilitator and spouse employment assistance program manager at the Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC), was recognized as the regional Naval District Washington (NDW) Employee of the Year for 2020.
Apicella joined DoD in 2008 and has served the Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren and NSF Indian Head community since 2015. While her passion for serving military members and families has long been evident at South Potomac, her virtual solutions to the challenges posed by Covid-19 reached far and wide across the Navy.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have all witnessed the community coming together to support families who are in need of assistance,” she said. “NSASP’s FFSC has been open throughout the pandemic and has never ceased the services we provide to our Sailors and families. Under the guidance of our director, Judy Bernacki, we have been continuing to assist families who have been sick with Covid-19, families who have lost family members, families who have lost their jobs, family members who have become victims of domestic violence, child abuse, or victims of sexual assault, families of those who have felt so hopeless that they have considered taking their own lives, and families of those who have actually followed through with suicide.”
The gravity and quantity of the issues faced by members of the Navy family during the pandemic motivated Apicella to not only provide her usual high level of service, but also to redouble efforts to educate Sailors and families about the vast array of support available at the FFSC. To overcome restrictions on traditional in-person support, Apicella landed on a straightforward solution: online webinars. The response, however, exceeded all expectations.
“In March of 2020, I began online trainings with my own virtual APAN classroom and learned quickly how to navigate the virtual world and modify my training materials to be more conducive to an online environment,” she said. “This quickly became an opportunity for me to reach out to families all over the world. I have had the privilege of speaking to active duty and their families all over the globe; from more states and countries than I can list. By the end of 2020 I had reached over 2,000 people through my webinars in my APAN classroom and on the CNIC’s Learning Management System.”
The topics covered by Apicella were as wide as her audience, including Virtual Schooling and Teaching Your Child at Home, Positive Child Guidance, Child Abuse and Neglect, Effective Communication Skills, Virtual Interviewing Skills, Professionalism and Dressing for Success, Tips for a Healthy Marriage, Domestic Violence Prevention, Suicide Prevention, Stress Management, Resiliency, Resume Writing, and more.
While the incredible success of the webinars astonished Apicella and impressed NSASP leadership, they came as no surprise at all to Bernacki, who oversees the NSASP FFSC. “Her works speaks for itself,” said Bernacki. “It was an easy award recommendation to write up. I’m so proud of her.”
NSASP Commanding Officer CAPT Todd Copeland added high praise for Apicella and her accomplishments. “Julia Apicella’s work has had a substantial impact on the readiness and welfare of our Sailors, civilians, and families during this unprecedented time,” he said. “She has proven to be the type of employee and team member who answers the call and steps up to go above and beyond the requirements of her job. She cares for our Sailors, she helps them through tough times, she mentors her coworkers. She is one of my trusted advisors and her empathy, compassion, and devotion to the Navy family has led to this prestigious and well-earned recognition.”
As usual, Apicella was busy serving her clients when NDW announced her selection and the recognition came as a surprise. “I am honored and proud to have the opportunity to assist Navy families every day,” she said. “It’s something I truly love doing and did not expect any extra recognition, nor did I expect to be rewarded for it. I am humbled by the recognition of [NDW Commandant Rear] Admiral Lahti and our NSASP Command ‘Quad.’ I appreciate trust you’ve all put in me to do whatever task it is that needs to be done, and appreciate your confidence that I will follow through to the end.”