Volunteers honored for $2.3 million worth of services, time
April 30, 2010
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - A week's worth of activities celebrating U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Volunteer Recognition Week culminated with the annual awards ceremony, here, where family members, coworkers and friends gathered to cheer on this year's 44 nominees and eventual category winners, including the brightest of volunteer stars.
About 200 people poured into the Nehelani for the 2010 Installation Volunteer Ceremony, April 22, feasting on the finest foods and beverages, and enjoying stirring renditions of the national anthem and such pop classics as "Hero" and "Wind Beneath My Wings." Most of all, they came to honor the people who devote so much of their time to serving Soldiers and their families.
Among those singing the volunteers' praises were USAG-HI's senior leaders.
"Yes, we have a history of recognizing our volunteers," said Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commanding general, U.S. Army-Pacific, noting that volunteers have been officially recognized since the establishment of the Army Community Service program in 1965. "But regardless of how long we have been doing it, we cannot say it enough, and we cannot do it loud enough - to say thank you to our volunteers."
"Our honorees have reached out, opened up and given up themselves to all of us, without reservations," added Col. Matthew Margotta, commander, USAG-HI. "By doing so, they have become part of something greater than themselves - the greater good," he said. "It is the very spirit of service that our volunteers here contribute every day that literally speaks to how simple acts, individual kindness and selfless service leads to an overall improvement in our local community and each of our lives.
To illustrate just how effective volunteer work has been over the past year, Tracey Clark, Army Volunteer Corps coordinator, Army Community Service, presented Maj. Gen. Michael J. Terry, senior commander, USAG-HI, and Margotta with a "check" for $2.3 million, which represented more than 110,000 volunteer hours served both on post and off.
"There is no price tag I can put on what (volunteers) do for their service," she explained, "but it's always nice when we can present the command with how much of (the volunteers') time has saved the United States' government, especially U.S. Garrison-Hawaii."
As in years past, each brigade, volunteer organization and agency was able to submit the name of one volunteer nominee - among the 1,000 registered volunteers - for award consideration in each of seven categories.
After much debate regarding the merits of each candidate in the days leading up to the ceremony, the winners were chosen. Among them, Layne Fitzpatrick, the Volunteer Ambassador of the Year (for those who serve off post), was named overall Volunteer of the Year, with his selection staunchly supported by a visibly and audibly appreciative audience.
"I didn't even know this was coming," admitted Fitzpatrick, who serves as executive director for Ohana Matters Educational Foundation, which helps youth from underprivileged areas gear up for careers in science and engineering, and also as volunteer coordinator for a surf club, which encourages those with disabilities to take part in the ancient Hawaiian sport.
"I was content with (the Volunteer Ambassador award)," said Fitzpatrick, who attended the event with a throng of friends and family members, including his wife, Emilia. "But when they called my name, again, I was thinking, 'did I do something wrong''"
A retired chief warrant officer who served in the U.S. Army for 25 years, Fitzpatrick encouraged those who may be thinking of doing volunteer work, to "jump in" and immerse themselves in a noble cause.
"Don't think twice about it; don't even second-guess yourselves," he said. "If you're already thinking about it, then it's coming from the heart."
The ceremony marked the end of a week's worth of activities, including an opening rally at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Main Exchange; a Volunteer Breakfast at the Hale Ikena, Fort Shafter; and Volunteer Movie Night at the Sgt. Smith Theater.
Clark was present at each of the activities, and is in her last go-around as Volunteer Corps coordinator. She praised those who have served alongside her, and implored those in attendance to continue being "shining examples of what we should all aspire to be."
"The power of one volunteer can create a wave of change that leaves an everlasting footprint for the next generation to follow," Clark said.
Aca,!AcBaker family, Family Volunteer of the Year.
Aca,!AcLayne Fitzpatrick, Volunteer Ambassador of the Year (those who serve off post) and overall Volunteer of the Year.
Aca,!AcAntonio Heyward, Youth Volunteer of the Year (under age 18).
Aca,!AcTheresa Johnson, Spouse Volunteer of the Year.
Aca,!AcStaff Sgt. John Martinez, Soldier Volunteer of the Year.
Aca,!AcSherell Pippen, Civilian Volunteer of the Year.
Aca,!AcMaritza Serrano, Silver Volunteer of the Year (age 50 and over).