Annual event pays tribute to volunteer contributions
May 22, 2009
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - Dozens of Tobyhanna employees were recognized at the annual Volunteer Appreciation and Awards Luncheon held at The Landing on April 30.
Volunteers who serve in several organizations were in attendance to see who would be named Volunteer of the Year, and which groups would claim the gold, silver and bronze Presidential Volunteer Service awards. Everyone received a Certificate of Appreciation and Judy Keiper received a commander's coin for her service to the depot choir.
Tobyhanna boasts 227 volunteers who contributed 18,617 hours last year, generating a savings of $365,279.
The luncheon was hosted by the Community Services Directorate's Army Community Services (ACS) Branch. The guest speaker was Charlotte Wright, director of Public Affairs at the Lackawanna County Chapter of the American Red Cross, who spoke on the "Spirit of Volunteerism." Col. Ron Alberto, depot commander, presented the awards.
"Celebrating the volunteer efforts contributed by all of our volunteers was exciting and inspiring," said Nicole Nelson, ACS volunteer coordinator. "It's evident that the volunteers give so much of themselves, not for the purpose of recognition, but because they have a genuine desire to serve others." Nelson remarked that although most people consider volunteerism its own reward, "it was great fun" to honor all their hard work.
EmmaAnn Olsommer received the Volunteer of the Year Award for her work as president of the Tobyhanna Women's Club (TWC), secretary of the chapel and caregiver to a member of the chapel. Also nominated for the coveted award were Jim Meyl and Arlene Scutt.
The Presidential Volunteer Service awards recognize individuals, families and groups that have achieved a certain standard measured by the number of hours served over a 12-month period. The gold award was presented to the Tobyhanna chapter of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), Combined Federal Campaign, Operation Santa Claus, Retirement Service, TWC and ACS volunteers (1,000 or more hours). Outdoor Recreation took the Silver Award (500-999 hours) and Defense Distribution Depot Tobyhanna (DDTP) received the bronze award (200-499 hours).
Growing up in a family that volunteered, Olsommer said she learned the value of helping others at an early age.
"Volunteering is something that's in my blood," Olsommer said, remarking that she's most proud of the people who have helped her along the way. "If it weren't for my friends and coworkers standing behind me, I wouldn't be able to accomplish anything." Olsommer is a budget analyst for the Public Works Directorate.
As TWC president, Olsommer volunteered hundreds of hours working on fundraisers, filling various board member positions, orchestrating monthly luncheons, and working with organizations in need of donations. With her guidance, the club's fundraising efforts reached new heights. For the first time, five $1,000 scholarships will be presented to the Merit-Based Scholarship Program winners this year.
"Emma has always stepped forward to volunteer her time no matter what needs to be done," said Eileen Rizzo, TWC member. "She accepted the job of TWC president without having served in any other board position and she has done a great job over the last two years."
In addition to her volunteer services with the TWC, Olsommer has served as the secretary for the chapel since 2003. While the chaplain position was vacant, she spent hours organizing and soliciting guest pastors, according to Rizzo. Olsommer and her husband also befriended an older member of the congregation who needed help with daily living, financial needs and health concerns.
"I would take her to doctor's appointments," Olsommer said, "and when she needed legal help, I made arrangements for her to see a lawyer."
Jim Meyl volunteers because he feels it's the right thing to do.
"It gives me a lot of personal satisfaction knowing I am giving something back to our country and those that fight for our freedom," he said. "Volunteer work is a rewarding experience because it brings out the best in people."
Meyl, a retired depot employee, has been a member of the AUSA for 14 years and served as its president for four years. During that time, the chapter has raised $15,000 hosting an annual golf tournament. The proceeds were donated to a scholarship program, POW/MIA memorial fund, Keep the Best Fund and the Fisher House Foundation.
Through his efforts the Tobyhanna chapter has maintained Star Chapter status for 82 consecutive months, and has achieved President's Club Gold status for four years, according to the nomination package. In addition, Meyl was instrumental in planning a memorial donation fund honoring fallen service members.
"I plan to remain active in AUSA at the chapter and national level and will serve as a member of the 2009 Resolution Committee," he said.
It's the smile on someone's face that keeps Arlene Scutt active in the DDTP Family Group Association (FGA).
Scutt is a Defense Logistics Agency distribution facilities specialist who spends much of her free time planning, organizing and executing a variety of fundraisers and activities.
"I like being able to help others," Scutt said, noting that each member of the group is as deserving of this nomination. "It's heartwarming to see everyone work together toward a shared goal," she said.
Last year, the association donated $640 to TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) in memory of an employee's daughter who died in an aircraft crash. Additionally, she spearheaded the FGA's participation in the Penn State Relay for Life cancer walk. Money raised by the 15 runners [more than $1,000] was donated in the name of an employee's daughter who has cancer.
"Her many contributions in the form of ideas and unwavering support have greatly enhanced the welfare and morale of the organization," said Lori Talley, noting that Scutt's efforts during fundraisers have raised hundreds of dollars to help employees and their family members.
Scutt's gentle, kind and selfless spirit is at the heart of what the DDTP is all about, Talley explained. "Her faithfulness and unwavering commitment to the success of the association is unmatched. We are better for having her in our midst."
Tobyhanna volunteers also support Adopt-A-Highway, America's Promise, Army Family Team Building, Civilian Welfare Council, Day of Caring, eCybermission, Junior Achievement, Rebuilding Together, and Tobyhanna Youth Volunteers.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.
About 5,600 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.