Fort Rucker volunteer receives Lifetime Achievement Award
February 11, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Some people just never stop working, and after 43 years of volunteering at the Fort Rucker Thrift Shop, 86-year-old Germaine Auxier received a hearty "thank you" from the post community Feb. 1 for her service to Soldiers and Families.
Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, presented Auxier a Lifetime Achievement Award during a brief ceremony at The Landing.
"We've come to expect so much from our volunteers that we don't reward them for what they do every day," Barclay said. "It's very seldom you get a volunteer who has hung in for that amount of time."
Lifetime Achievement Awards are bestowed on individuals with a "significant lifelong volunteer history that demonstrates conspicuous, longstanding contributions to one or more organizations that support the Fort Rucker Army community and the surrounding communities," said Karen Hayes, Army Volunteer Corps program manager.
Auxier, originally from Maastricht, The Netherlands, was an Army wife for 50 years until her husband, Jack, passed away in 1995.
While she said helping military Families made her work worthwhile, she admitted her reasons for starting in 1967 were different. At that time, she had young children and had to be home when school let out at 3 p.m. The Thrift Shop's early hours allowed her to get out of the house while still being a full-time mother.
"Whatever I did, I did it because I wanted to do it and I enjoyed it," Auxier said.
Meeting a wide variety of people was another motivation for working at the Thrift Shop, where Auxier spread her contagious smile and friendly personality.
"I never met a stranger in my life (because) I always talk to everybody," she said.
Her duties at the facility consisted of arranging merchandise, ringing up customers' purchases, mentoring fellow volunteers and coordinating consignment check payments.
Auxier believes the Thrift Shop contributes significantly to the post community because proceeds are returned to others through scholarships and program funding. This is her way of giving back to the military Family she has been a part of for so long.
"I think the world of the Soldiers," she said.
Co-workers said her passion for helping others, while maintaining a positive attitude, was evident.
"I wish I had her energy. She has more than I do," said Angelika Singleton, Thrift Shop volunteer coordinator. "She is a role model for all of us. It's going to be hard to find someone to replace her."
Auxier's volunteer efforts went beyond post. She traveled monthly to Montgomery's veterans' hospital and Veterans of Foreign Wars locations to serve meals to former servicemembers and deliver Thrift Shop donations. She originally began the tradition with her husband, and said she never had any desire to stop after his death.
"I'm always helping people. I've always been a people person," she said.
After much contemplation, Auxier has decided to move on, however, choosing to relocate closer to Family in Sedalia, Mo., later this month.
"I hate to give this up, but I have to think about Family," she said.
Not one to quit on something she's already started though, Auxier said she plans to continue working with veterans once she arrives at her new residency.
"To me, (volunteering) is an outlook on life," she said. "I'm not one to sit at home and stare at the walls."
Kathy Awe, Thrift Shop manager, said Auxier has been a permanent fixture at the facility since beginning there so many decades ago.
"We're losing a part of history," Awe said. "We will miss her. Her dedication shows age shouldn't stop you from volunteering. She's an example that you can be dedicated to more than one thing (Family and volunteering)."
Hayes noted Auxier can claim to be one of Fort Rucker's most seasoned and long-term volunteers, and she deserves recognition for her dedication.
"Her positive attitude is contagious to everyone she comes in contact with," Hayes said. "Mrs. Auxier puts her entire heart into everything she does. She never looks for praise (for) her work, only to make someone less fortunate a little happier. I have come to truly admire and respect this amazing lady for all that she has done. She will be missed. Of that I am sure."