Everyday heroes honored for outstanding community service
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Volunteers of the Year gather for a keepsake photo. Pictured, left to right, are Linda Chevalier (represented by her daughter), honored as Silver Volunteer; Elizabeth Woodruff, Spouse and Installation Volunteer; Meko Thompson,Youth Volunteer; Bogus family (child in arms Peyton, Chris, Cera, Michelle and Rhiannon), Volunteer Family of the Year; Spc. Courtney Robinson, Soldier Volunteer; and Staff Sgt. John Irace, Volunteer Ambassador. Amy Earle (not pictured) is Civilian Volunteer of the Year."

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - Members of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI) gathered at the Hale, Ikena, here, to recognize the service and accomplishments of some everyday heroes at the 2009 Installation Volunteer Recognition Ceremony, April 23.

Guest speaker Maj. Gen. Raymond Mason, commanding general, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, honored the volunteers by donning his general officers belt prior to making his remarks, calling forth a tradition he said he saves for only special occasions.

"In my 30 years in the Army, I have witnessed many heroic acts of selfless service ... the efforts of these volunteers today certainly rises to that level of heroism," said Mason.

Twenty-nine individuals were nominated this year by units and community organizations to be recognized in seven different categories.

As Tracey Clark, Army Community Service, Army Volunteer Corps coordinator called the names, she briefly described each nominee's accomplishments as Mason and Col. Matthew Margotta, commander, USAG-HI, presented certificates of appreciation and mementos.

Seven individuals were selected from the 29 nominees to be recognized as outstanding volunteers of the year in the following categories; Soldier, Spouse, Civilian, Volunteer Ambassador, Youth, Silver and Family.

During his speech, Mason personally thanked the volunteers and spoke about the significance of this year's theme, "Volunteer to Change the World." He said volunteer contributions vividly show how simple acts of kindness and selfless service can lead to overall improvement in our communities and lives.

"That spirit of volunteerism," Mason said, "lives right here in Hawaii, and right here in this room."

Elizabeth Woodruff is one of many volunteers who embodies that spirit. As the Installation Volunteer of the Year and Spouse Volunteer of the Year awardee, Woodruff gives of her talents in anyway she can - from stepping up to lead the battalion's family readiness group (FRG) through a 15-month deployment, to substitute teaching, co-leading a Girl Scout troop, volunteering for youth sports, or helping to honor the fallen and their families by singing at memorial services.

"It was an honor to be recognized and represent all the ladies in our battalion," Woodruff said.

As a mother of three, Woodruff explained that if her efforts can set an example for others, then she believes she has affected change and the community.

Inspiring others is one reason Spc. Courtney Robinson, 209th Aviation Support Battalion, Soldier Volunteer of the Year, gives of her time. Her efforts reach beyond the Army community to sponsor children in Indonesia and Africa and raise funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and St. Jude's Hospital.

As a single Soldier and expectant mother, Robinson is actively involved in her unit's FRG, and her efforts have helped posture her unit for deployment.

"Inspiring people to do more is what matters to me," she said. "I think that as a Soldier you are exposed to so many more opportunities to give."

Nominee Heather Brock, Charlie Troop, 2nd Squadron 6th Cavalry Regiment FRG leader, said she helps wherever she is needed.

Brock volunteers as an Army Family Team Building instructor and for the Hui O Wahine, the Schofield Barracks spouses' organization.

"I volunteer because I want programs to continue in the community. It's always fun and I enjoy what I do," Brock said.

Having fun is a key component to the volunteer efforts made by the Bogus family, who were recognized as the Volunteer Family of the Year.

"Keeping the family busy helped us get through deployment," said the mother of three, Michelle Bogus.

As the list of nominees came to an end no community program was left untouched by the selfless contributions of volunteers.

Clark illustrated the wealth of service by presenting Margotta with a check in the amount of $2,575,681, symbolizing the amount of money 800 volunteers and 132,000 volunteer hours has given the community.

"I cannot help but be awed by what some of these volunteers do. We as a community can't say thank you enough," said Margotta. "You are truly heroes."

<b>2009 U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Outstanding Volunteer Nominees </b>

Heather Brock
Capt. Clayton Cole
Mildred A. Compton
Marissa Diaz
Theresa Dighans
Martina Foote
Mike Godich, Jr.
Juanita C. Johnson
Theresa Johnson
Paula Katers
Jeanine North
Yuko O'Reilly
Bernice N. Oshita
Sherrell Pippen
Rebecca Anne Rhodes
Carrie Sonnen
Suzanne Tuten
Mary Ward
Melinda Yeary
Staff Sgt. Richard T. Yniguez
Yeary Family
Joyce A. Zook

<b>VOLUNTEERS OF THE YEAR</b>

<b>Installation Volunteer of the Year</b>
Elizabeth Woodruff
<b>Soldier Volunteer of the Year</b>
Spc. Courtney Robinson
<b>Spouse Volunteer of the Year</b>
Elizabeth Woodruff
<b>Civilian Volunteer of the Year</b>
Amy Earle
<b>Silver Volunteer of the Year</b>
Linda Chevalier
<b>Volunteer Ambassador</b>
Staff Sgt. John Irace
<b>Youth Volunteer of the Year</b>
Meko J. Thompson
<b>Volunteer Family of the Year</b>
The Bogus Family
<i>(Chris (father), Michelle (mother), Rhiannon, Cera, and Peyton, 10-months-old)</i>

Page last updated Fri May 1st, 2009 at 17:53