It can be kind of fun being the youngest person to be recognized at a volunteer awards luncheon.

First, there's all the attention that comes from having a million-dollar smile and being the shortest in the bunch. And then there's also getting out of school, spending time with your mom, a certificate of appreciation, a photo with a general and all the great food prepared by the staff at the Officers and Civilians Club.

But the thing 8-year-old Ahmahd Basham liked the best about the 25th annual Installation Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on April 21 was the commander's coin that Maj. Gen. Jim Myles slipped into his pocket.

It was also kind of neat for the second-grader to be honored at a luncheon that included his friend - 9-year-old, third-grader Imani Walker.

"We're like brother and sister," Imani said.

Ahmahd and Imani were among 30 volunteers - called Helping Hands -- and 23 volunteer agencies recognized at the luncheon for the services and programs they provide to enhance the Redstone Arsenal community.

So, what did the two kids do to deserve so much recognition and appreciation'

"I pick up the trash and show some kids around," Ahmahd said of his volunteer work at the School Age Services facility. Those words were echoed by Imani.

But the two children do so much more. They are Promise Passport members who are active in weekly community service projects, they attend monthly planning meetings and they help with small everyday tasks. Like all volunteers, they do things to help out of the goodness of their hearts and without thinking about it.

"I was really surprised about the recognition," said Ahmahd's mother, Staff Sgt. Crystal Basham. "I think it was good for him to see that there can sometimes be a payoff for being helpful. He's a good kid."

Both Basham and Imani's mother, Staff Sgt. Loumiser Walker, are single moms.

"I'm so proud of both of them. It's great to see our kids doing good. As single parents, we do our best to set an example for them. It's nice to see it rubbing off on them. I hope they always find ways to volunteer," Walker said.

Recognizing the efforts of Redstone Arsenal volunteers is important because of the value they bring to the community, said Maj. Gen. Jim Myles, commander of Redstone Arsenal and the Aviation and Missile Command.

"I want to thank those of you who have done so much to make our community an excellent place to live, work and play," he said. "I am honored to have the opportunity to tell you how much we appreciate your involvement."

The luncheon was scheduled during the 25th anniversary of National Volunteer Week. There are an estimated 109 million people who volunteer in communities throughout the U.S.

During the past 12 months, its is estimated that Arsenal volunteers donated more than 50,000 hours to the community. The Points of Light Foundation and Volunteer Center National Network value those volunteer hours at more than $1 million.

"Volunteers are the conscience of society, weaving compassion into its social fabric," Myles said.

"It is important that we take this time to recognize those who keep our communities and families safe, healthy and able to carry on. It is you who are the face of people helping people and I want you to know I value the work you have done."

From Army Community Service to the Redstone Arsenal Girl Scouts and from Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers to the Flying Activity Program, the Redstone Arsenal community relies on volunteers to provide services through its many social and quality of life programs.

"Some of you focus on making life easier for our families to live with life's challenges or to make a positive connection with each other. Some of you guide our children through Scouting and sports programs. Others help decorate and beautify our surroundings," Myles said. "Many of our agencies are supported by volunteers, and our private organizations raise funds for scholarships, special events, disaster relief and community well-being. You all help in some important way to make life better for all of us."

Volunteers give to their communities their most precious asset - their time. Just as Soldiers pledge their selfless service to the nation, volunteers give of their time to help others and make a difference in their communities, he said.

Myles went on to mention two special groups who also serve as volunteers in their day-to-day activities. The first included Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Madison Mayor Paul Finley, both who were present during the luncheon. The second included all the military spouses "that keep families together" despite deployments, and other stresses and burdens related to military service.

"When something breaks, when someone is sick, when someone dies, when someone is born" military spouses are there and are the "most selfless people I know," he said.

Following his comments, Myles and his wife, Alice, presented certificates to Arsenal volunteer organizations and volunteers.

The following volunteer organizations were recognized for enhancing the quality of life for the Redstone Arsenal community: Redstone Arsenal American Red Cross Volunteer Program; Army Community Service Volunteer Program; Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers; HHC 59th Ordnance Brigade Family Readiness Group; Directorate of Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation volunteer programs, including Arts and Crafts, Child Youth and School Services, Youth Services, School Age Services, Youth Sports, Library, Links Golf Course, Outdoor Recreation, Recreation Sports and Fitness, and Flying Activity; Thrift Shop Volunteer Program; Redstone Arsenal Girl Scout Program; Officer and Civilian Women's Club; Redstone Arsenal Military Retiree Advisory Council; Military Officers Association of America; Redstone Arsenal Sergeants Major Association; the Redstone Arsenal U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla; Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program; and Warrant Officers Association.

The following volunteers were recognized at Helping Hands to the Arsenal community: Ahmahd Basham and Imani Walker, School Ages Services; Perry Cupples and Dee Thonus, Links at Redstone Golf Course; Lori Debron and Penny Koger-Thomas, Army Community Service; Jean and Leon Dussault, Thrift Shop; Pandora Economy and Teresa Lee, Officer and Civilian Women's Club; Michele and Mike Gray, Military Retiree Advisory Council; Chris Hamner and Lewis Spencer, Flying Activity; Kurtrell Jackson, Youth Sports; Johnie Keeter, Warrant Officers Association; Joshua Kelly and Larry McFall, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary; Lancelot LaTouche and Ernie Williams, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance; Chester Marty, American Red Cross; Lt. Col. Cheryl McAuley and retired Col. Ed Uher, Military Officers Association of America; Bill McConville, Library; Phillip Nichols and Dr. Claude Thibault, Arts & Crafts Center; John Perry, Sergeants Major Association; Tamara Richardson and Bradley Williams, Youth Services; and Janie Waddell, Girl Scouts.

In closing, Garrison commander Col. Bob Pastorelli thanked the volunteers for their countless hours of service.

The Garrison "benefits greatly from the outstanding services that you have provided over the last year to our Soldiers, family members, retirees, civilians and contractors," he said. "We truly could not accomplish our mission without you. Through your hard work and spirit of service, you have made a difference to those who live, work and play at Redstone Arsenal. "

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16