Volunteers earn recognition during ceremony at USAG Ansbach
April 30, 2014
ANSBACH, Germany (April 30, 2014) -- Volunteers give their time, effort and enthusiasm to their community. At U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach, volunteers received recognition for their work April 24 at a ceremony at the Von Steuben Community Center.
Army Community Service organized the event. The theme for the event, according to Danielle O'Donnell, volunteer coordinator with ACS, was "Army Volunteers: Changing Lives and Communities."
"Without the help of our volunteers, we as a community would not be able to provide the level of quality service and care that many of us receive on a daily basis," said O'Donnell during her opening remarks.
Col. Christopher M. Benson, USAG Ansbach and Franconia Military Community commander, spoke at the event as well.
"We can look back proudly on the past year for all that our volunteers have accomplished and the positive, powerful impact they have made on our community," said Benson. "We are certainly grateful for every hour that our volunteers offered, and their contributions are indescribably important."
The 366 registered volunteers who were active in the community over the past year have contributed 47,199 hours, which saved the garrison $1.1 million. Benson believed that the hours meant more than money.
"It also represents job experience for military spouses who need portable skills," said Benson. "It represents the effort of those who coach, mentor, teach and lead all sorts of organizations. It represents the intangible value of kindness and caring passed on to those in need. USAG Ansbach's volunteer efforts have demonstrated that our community members possess compassion, an open mind, a willingness to do whatever is needed and a positive attitude."
As part of the opening of the ceremony, the Illesheim Elementary School Choir performed the national anthem, and the Junior ROTC color guard presented the colors. After that, the Illesheim ukulele club, a group of children learning to play the ukulele, played and sang a few popular contemporary and classic songs.
Benson spoke of the importance of volunteers setting an example for the next generation, which was why the event included participation by the community's youngest members.
"By giving back to the community, they also show our children first-hand how volunteering makes a difference and how good it feels to help others and enact change," said Benson.
"We want to lead by example," said O'Donnell. "Having the children involved shows them early on how important it is to volunteer in the community. That's what I wanted to display with the ukulele club and the JROTC."
All the volunteers were listed in a two-slide slide show during the presentation, but those volunteers with more than 200 hours received a certificate from the commander. Two volunteers in particular received a Department of the Army level Friends of Recreation Award.
Both Margi Ritscher and Alixandria Ellis have worked with the Terrace Playhouse at Bleidorn Kaserne for many years in many different functions. Ellis said she volunteered for the community, but that her service is also about assisting individuals.
"I really like to help people out and encourage them," said Ellis. "I found a little niche at the Terrace Playhouse where I can meet other people and have friends."
According to Ellis, her volunteer experience in the theater has wider application when seeking paid employment.
"It's regular knowledge for any other job I would like to apply to," said Ellis. "I am the team leader of 30 people when directing. I know how to do projects and complete them within a certain amount of time. We put on shows in four weeks minimum sometimes."
O'Donnell agrees that volunteering, while a chance for personal growth, is also a chance to gain experience for a career in the future.
"Volunteering kind of gives you a different sense of yourself," said O'Donnell. "Just because they're not getting paid to do something, it doesn't mean they're not getting the experience. And they're creating value to themselves by volunteering for the community, and they're giving the community value."
O'Donnell said volunteers do not do the work strictly to be recognized, but that it is still important to do so.
"You want them to know that what they're doing -- their effort -- they are getting looked at," said O'Donnell. "And they are appreciated."
To learn more about volunteer opportunities through the garrison at Ansbach, visit https://ansbach.armymwr.com/europe/ansbach/programs/army-community-services/ or click "USAG Ansbach Army Community Service" in the "Related Links" section.