FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Twenty-three volunteers who help make Fort Bragg the community of excellence that it is were recognized Tuesday during an Iron Mike awards ceremony at Memorial Hall.

In 2009, volunteers saved Fort Bragg about $20 million, said Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, commander, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, at the presentation.

The volunteers recognized selflessly give their time at Army Community Service, American Red Cross, 16th Military Police Brigade and various units in the 82nd Airborne Division.

Trisha Matthews, who volunteers at the American Red Cross' main office on Macomb Street was the star awardee. She received a Silver Star award for volunteering more than 750 hours and impacting her organization, the installation and community.

Matthews started volunteering on Fort Bragg in 2007. She said she wanted something to do while her children were in middle school and now volunteers an average of 30 hours per a week.
"It gives me something to do and I love helping others. I am driven by the feeling that I get for being there for the Soldiers and their Families," said Matthews.

"I really have to thank my husband for his support. There are many days that he helps me out so I can continue to do this," she said.

Recipients were recognized and pinned by Helmick, Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Rice, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg command sergeant major and Melissa Gomez, ACS volunteer coordinator.

" ... Thank you for a job well done. Thank you very much for making a difference in the lives of people who, by the way, when they get back to their house, whether in quarters or off base, or if they PCS from here, say 'I wish my new unit would do it like they do it at Fort Bragg.' That is a real testament to your volunteering," said Helmick.

Among the awardees was Joseph Oliva, who received an Iron Mike pin for his service. He started volunteering in 1973 after retiring form the Army and has been at the Fort Bragg Red Cross for more than 11 years. He works at the information desk at Womack Army Medical Center twice a week and said he couldn't be happier with his choice to volunteer.
"I wouldn't have it any other way," said Oliva.

As for his plans for the future, "I plan to keep on doing it as long as I can," he said.

Alice Stephens, ACS, Installation Volunteer Services coordinator, praised the volunteers recognized and the many others who give their time for the community.

"Great job to our awardees and please continue to do what you do. We couldn't do what we do without all of you," she said.

The Iron Mike awards were created in 2001 for volunteers who consistently go above and beyond the requirements of their volunteer position description.

There are four levels of the award that begins with fulfilling an hour requirement.

"Meeting the hour requirement does not automatically mean a volunteer will be presented with the award. We always say that hours get a foot in the door but that it's the overall impact of volunteer service on the organization, installation and the community that actually earns them the award," said Stephens.

The second step is the impact the volunteer's service had on the organization, community and installation. The Iron Mike pin requires 300 hours for adults and 150 hours for youth. The Bronze Star pin is presented for 500 hours for adults and 250 for youth. The Silver Star requires 750 hours for adults and 350 for youth. Last, the Gold Star is awarded for 1,000 hours for adults and 500 hours for youths.

Two recipients have received the Gold Star since 2001.

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