Yongsan volunteers shine in award ceremony
January 15, 2009
<strong>YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea</strong> - The call to serve is strong for 38 of Yongsan's top volunteers. More than 130 Yongsan community members packed the Community Service Building classroom Jan. 15 to pay tribute to those who give freely of their time and talents.
The 31 adult and seven youth nominees for U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan "Volunteer of the Quarter" were chosen from more than 1,930 Korean and American Servicemembers and Civilians who volunteered on post last quarter, said Lisa Willadsen, Garrison Army Volunteer Corps coordinator.
"Our volunteers deserve to be recognized for the hard work that they do and the impact they make on our community," Willadsen said.
Garrison officials presented certificates of appreciation to all nominees, and then recognized the top two volunteers with mementos.
Avery Weigle, a Yongsan Boy Scout working on his Eagle Badge, earned top billing as the USAG-Yongsan Youth Volunteer of the Quarter.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/usag-yongsan/3198692184/" title="USAG-Yongsan Volunteer of the Quarter Ceremony by usag.yongsan, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3263/3198692184_a5b29c9822_m.jpg" width="165" height="240" alt="USAG-Yongsan Volunteer of the Quarter Ceremony" hspace=10 vspace=5 align="left" border="0" /></a>"I'm pretty excited," Weigle said. "It all worked out."
Weigle's Eagle Scout project dramatically enhanced the Stork's Nest, a temporary living facility for pregnant women visiting the Brian Allgood Hospital from outlying areas.
Weigle encouraged other youth to volunteer. "I would say to volunteer because it pays off in the end."
The Garrison named Ingrid Riseley as the Adult Volunteer of the Quarter. Riseley volunteers with the Army Community Service Relocation Readiness Program, but actually puts most of her time in at the Yongsan Readiness Center.
Riseley has been greeting Yongsan newcomers for almost a year, only missing one day. She provides newcomers with information about Army life, Korean culture and family assistance.
"We have families coming to the peninsula and they're coming to something new," she said. "They need to see a friendly face. Somebody needs to look at them and welcome them in person."
Riseley said newcomers have many questions that she is able to answer. "f you can just give them that little bit, it gives them a feeling that they are cared for," she said.
She said she was surprised by her selection as adult volunteer of the quarter.
"I surprised because I normally don't need recognition," she said. "After 23 years as a military spouse it's just do. The recognition is nice, but it's not the reason for volunteering."
Riseley said she encourages newcomers to volunteer too. "There are many rewards," she said.
"It's important to conduct events like these because volunteers often do things behind the scenes," Willadsen said. "I think the event went well."
Willadsen said throughout the last quarter, which was October to December, Yongsan volunteers logged more than 18,000 hours of work each month.
"That's a total of 55,005 volunteer hours," Willadsen said. "If you estimate what that much work would have cost the Army with a GS-5 paid employee, it figures out to a value to the community of more than $877,000."
Garrison Commander Col. Dave Hall said Yongsan volunteers are vital to the community. "We have a vibrant program with unequaled support from our community members," he said. "We are so proud of our volunteers and their selfless service."
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/usag-yongsan/3198681834/" title="USAG-Yongsan Volunteer of the Quarter Ceremony by usag.yongsan, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3086/3198681834_56151216f2_m.jpg" width="240" height="159" alt="USAG-Yongsan Volunteer of the Quarter Ceremony" hspace=10 vspace=5 align="right" border="0" /></a>The Seoul American Middle School Choir performed two moving songs during the ceremony. "We also had great support for our sponsors for the food and cake," Willadsen said.
Guest speaker Beth Anne Hall told the gathering about the importance of telling people they are appreciated. She related a story from her high school days of a note she had written on fellow student's Valentine's Day card.
"Saying 'thank you' may seem like a small thing, but it can have a big impact on our lives," she said.
Hall encouraged community members to take two minutes each day to tell someone specifically why you appreciate them.
"The results will make a world of difference," she said. "We especially want to thank our volunteers for everything they do."
Col. Hall said it was significant that so many people turned out for the volunteer ceremony. "This is truly a first-class event worthy of our great volunteers," he said.