USAG Ansbach recognizes its volunteers, honors them as 'heart of our community'
June 13, 2013
ANSBACH, Germany (June 13, 2013) -- Hundreds gathered June 5 at the Storck Barracks Community Activity Center to help personally honor hundreds of members of the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach community who have volunteered their time throughout the past year and, in many cases, throughout much of their lives.
The annual volunteer recognition ceremony honored more than 800 USAG Ansbach volunteers -- which included Soldiers, Families and civilians -- but most either could not attend the event itself or decided not to be recognized in such a public way.
The ceremony started with a musical act courtesy of a group of volunteers from the Terrace Playhouse, whose narrative illustrated how important volunteers can be to an organization.
Director of Emergency Services Lt. Col. David Markiewicz served as keynote speaker and addressed the audience on behalf of USAG Ansbach, urging all to "celebrate those who help us at USAG Ansbach to make this community as incredible as it is -- our volunteers."
"This year, as it has been in years past, the spirit of volunteerism is at the heart of our community and is alive and well," Markiewicz said. "Our men, women, children and families continue to step forward to volunteer with family readiness groups, as volunteer coaches, in our clinics and other community agencies. Those of you in the community have seen them perform and some of them have helped you personally."
Markiewicz pointed out, though, that unfortunately much of their work goes unseen and is unappreciated until it is recognized in a venue like this.
USAG Ansbach's annual recognition ceremony was scheduled for early June to ensure maximum participation, but it is conducted in conjunction with National Volunteer Recognition Week -- which was in April. The theme for this year's National Volunteer Appreciation Week was "Volunteers, Strengthening a Nation."
During the week, Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, commander of U.S. Army Installation Management Command, called volunteers "key to keeping our Army strong and strengthening our nation. I invite and encourage you to get involved and give back to your Army community through volunteering."
As part of the annual presidential proclamation for National Volunteer Week, President Barack Obama said volunteering rates "are the highest they have been in years. More Americans are answering the call to serve -- not for fanfare or attention, but because they want to give back."
One of those volunteers was Army spouse Tracy Schreurs, who received a Presidential Call to Service Award during the ceremony for her more than 8,000 hours of volunteer work. Schreurs has been volunteering for more than seven years and said she felt honored when her name was called during the ceremony.
Schreurs spends much of her volunteer time working with children and said it gives her more time to spend with her own children -- who also do volunteer work.
"I like having my kids grow up in an environment where they can give back," Schreurs said.
Schreurs' 16-year-old son volunteers regularly with Club Beyond, an school-age extracurricular group that does a service project twice a year. This year the group has decided to build a playground for an orphanage in the Czech Republic, something Schreurs' daughter did a few years ago in Poland before she started attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. All three of her children have been volunteering "since they were little," she said.
Sgt. 1st Class Klaus Riessner, another awardee, has been volunteering with the USAG Ansbach Morale, Welfare and Recreation Arts and Crafts Shop for about two years now on weekends, nights and now during many of his days.
"Any free time I've had, I've been here helping out, building frames, making plaques and working at the Terrace Playhouse, building the sets," said Riessner, who added that he's always loved woodworking.
Riessner said it also gives him more chances to work directly with Soldiers, something he feels working as a senior noncommissioned officer at brigade level doesn't give him enough time to do.
Since October, Riessner has logged close to 1,800 volunteer hours and serves as the brigade's recreation and utility specialist now that he's less than six months away from retirement. Much of his handiwork lines the halls of USAG Ansbach buildings and will remain there after his departure.
One piece of advice Riessner hopes all prospective volunteers keep in my mind before they devote their time is simple: "Do something you already enjoy."
To find out how you can volunteer, call Army Community Service at 467-2883/2846 (Katterbach) or 467-4555/4764 (Storck Barracks).