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Kyu Reisch may stand just under five feet tall, but the long list of ways she’s served her community makes her one of the tallest women in town.
She's logged more than 17,000 hours of volunteer service with the American Red Cross, donated another 5,000 volunteer hours to Army Community Service, provided her bilingual skills as a volunteer translator and has somehow found time along the way to run a restaurant and stand out athletically.
Reisch, 72, began her life in Korea. After finishing college she received a full scholarship for graduate school in Taiwan, where she studied journalism. After graduation, she went to Malaysia to work in the Korean embassy. She also taught high school in Korea for many years before coming to the United States.
She met and married an American soldier and came to Fort Knox in January 1986. She feels it was a good decision because she loves American people, traditions and communication.
By February 1986 she was already volunteering for the Red Cross.
Through the Red Cross, she’s worked at Ireland Army Hospital in the newborn nursery, outpatient records and pharmacy, at the front desk and as a dental assistant.
“She’s a busybody, but in a good way,” said May Giulitto, service manger for the American Red Cross Center at Fort Knox.
Giulitto once asked Reisch if she ever rested. She answered “no.” Reisch is very giving and doesn’t want to be still or idle, Giulitto said.
“It’s precious, you can’t really pay her for what she does,” Giulitto said. “She’s been a godsend and is a wonderful and giving lady.”
Even during back surgery a few years ago, when Giulitto thought she might slow down, Reisch powered thorough the pain and kept going. She’d tell Giulitto she had to help her soldiers.
“She’s my girl,” Giulitto said. “We love her and hope we keep her until she’s 100.”
Hanging across every wall in her dining room is evidence of her accomplishments. Along with her diplomas are certificates of appreciation from the Red Cross and ACS, many given by commanders on post. She’s been awarded the Emma Marie Baird Award for outstanding Volunteer Service in ACS and the Order of the Yellow Ribbon when volunteering with the Bamberg Recreation Center and the Family Support Group of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Division in Germany.
Once an avid golfer, she also has six hole in one plaques on her walls.
Among her ACS jobs are outreach chairperson, Korean, Mandarin and Chinese translator and outreach to soldiers and visiting families.
Reisch has called thousands of family members of trainees to be a point of contact for them. One soldier came from California. His family told her his time in the army and association with Reisch made him a better person. His grandparents still call her sometimes.
She also sponsors foreign students through the International Military Student Office. To keep students from becoming homesick, she invites them to her home for Korean food and hospitality. She also helps by translating legal documents for them and taking them shopping. Since 1989 she has sponsored 91 students and 24 family members.
Bruce Thompson worked with Reisch about 15 years ago at Jordan Dental Clinic. Since then he keeps running into her in a variety of places including meetings with international officers, the gym, community functions and now at her restaurant.
“It just illustrates how active and involved she is,” Thompson said. “Invariably she is upbeat and generous.”
While her contributions to the Red Cross, ACS and international students seem plenty for one person to do in a lifetime, Reisch’s list goes on.
In 1996 Reisch translated for the Korean and Chinese volleyball teams during the Olympics in Atlanta. It was three weeks of volunteering that had a lasting impression her.
“It was awesome,” she said. “Even if I was just a small volunteer it felt like I was on top of the world.”
Not only was Reisch a golf champ, she’s also a tennis champ on post and was a Kentucky High School certified soccer referee.
Recently she began visiting North Hardin Health and Rehabilitation Center to talk and sit with residents there. Some hold her hand and won’t let her go.
This busy woman also has her own business, Q’s Korner in Radcliff. It is a small Korean restaurant.
“I am old so I don’t try to make money, I just do it for the soldiers,” Reisch said.
She keeps her prices down because the soldiers often don’t have a lot of money, and she wants to give them a good meal, she said.
On top of all that, she’s met both Bill and Hillary Clinton and blows the harmonica.
“There’s a lot of things going on in my mind,” Reisch said.
A life this active would exhaust some, but energizes Reisch.
She feels as long as she can she should volunteer.
“If my body’s OK, as long as I can still drive, I’m going to volunteer,” she said.
She hopes to inspire others to volunteer and thinks if someone has a talent they should use it and not waste it.
When she sees someone in need, it breaks her heart and she just has to volunteer, she said.
“I don’t do much like famous people, I’m a very middle-class person but I love people,” Reisch said.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting to know Kyu Reisch
Family: Daughter Stella and grandson Desmond live in New York
Favorite Movies: “Legends of the Fall,” “Little Woman” and “The Pelican Brief”
Favorite Books: “Little Women” and Hillary Clinton’s “Living History”
Favorite TV: “Judge Judy”
Favorite Music: Classical but likes to dance so rock n’ roll is OK too.
Hobbies: Facebook on her iPhone 4
Faith: She is a Christian who attends Mill Creek Baptist Church.
Food: Likes fixing Korean food, especially kimchee, because it is low in cholesterol and fat. She said it is a natural diet and helps maintain a healthy weight.
Restaurant: Q’s Korner at 809 N. Wilson Road in Radcliff. For more information, contact (270) 351-2275.