Ceremony celebrates Belvoir volunteers
April 26, 2013
The Fort Belvoir Army Community Service Army Volunteer Corps program celebrated the contributions of the installation's volunteers during a ceremony at the Belvoir Community Center, Monday.
This year marks the 39th annual celebration of National Volunteer week, which began in 1974 when President Richard Nixon signed an executive order recognizing the country's volunteers. This year's theme is "Volunteers, Super Heroes that Strengthen the Nation … that strengthen our community."
"We have the privilege today to recognize and thank the individuals who share their time, education, their life experiences, day in and day out, to make our community a better place to work, play and live," said Faitheleen Henderson, Army Volunteer Corps, manager. "We are here to thank the self-starters, the doers, the unsung heroes of Fort Belvoir."
Volunteers from 23 organizations on post from ACS; USO; Fort Belvoir Community Hospital; the Belvoir Chaplain's office; Child, Youth and School Services; Outdoor Recreation; Van Noy Library; the Retiree Council; the Enlisted Spouses Club; and the American Red Cross were recognized during the event.
Marin Reynes, Belvoir Red Cross Station, manager, and Barbara Zimmerman, Belvoir Enlisted Spouses Club president, followed Henderson's opening remarks with remarks of their own.
Both said they are honored to spend the day with individuals who share their time and talents day in and day out to make the community a better place to work, play and live.
"When I began this position in July 2011, I had no experience working with volunteers except for the few months I spent at Walter Reed," said Reynes. "I had no idea the impact one person could make and how much I would rely on our passionate volunteers each and every day. The Red Cross program at Fort Belvoir could not and would not be the same without the more than 350 volunteers who support our programs each and every day."
Zimmerman shared that volunteers help to ease the financial burden on military Families and Belvoir as a whole and that she's "never seen such a committed group of people make a difference like this on a military post."
Daryl Duff, Fort Belvoir Chapel volunteer, has been volunteering as a Sunday School teacher for middle school children for the last 10 years and feels like he is fulfilling his calling by volunteering.
"I like to get into their heads so they understand how much God loves them, even at that age when they are just getting into middle school and haven't come across the issues you begin to encounter in high school," said Duff. "They are still sort of innocent, so I figure if I can instill Christ in them at the critical age before high school that I've done the job I've been called to do."
According to Duff, volunteers fill gaps for the military and provide services that money and policies can't provide.
"It takes a lot of paperwork sometimes to get something done," said Duff. "So, a volunteer sees something that needs to be done and they just do it. You can't stop someone from doing something good unless it's breaking the law."
The reward of volunteering is one reason why Jeanne Howlett, Belvoir Red Cross, CPR instructor has volunteered since 1970.
"We do it to make ourselves feel good," said Howlett. "What you get back when teaching a course in CPR is seeing the light that goes on when they learn the skill, and they realize they can go out and help someone. That's my feedback."
Howlett began volunteering while her husband was in the Air Force because she didn't want to be alone while he was deployed or on an extended assignment. She came back to the Red Cross in 2001 after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to work with disaster relief services.
"My husband was in the Pentagon that day, my daughter and granddaughter were on their way there for a photo op at the Pentagon. I worked a few blocks away and saw the explosion," said Howlett. "I had no control over what was going on and I decided then I would never let that happen again. So, I called the Red Cross and signed up for disaster services and have been doing that since."
Retirees have a responsibility to volunteer, according to Howlett, which is another reason why she has continued to volunteer.
"We have the time and the energy in most cases," said Howlett. "If we don't have the energy, we will get it volunteering."