Community honors phenomenal women
March 14, 2011
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - U.S. Army Europe selected local women for their positive impacts within the community to kick-off Women's History Month observations in March. Christi Ham, wife of Gen. Carter Ham, commanding general, USAREUR, called on senior leader spouses to nominate a woman from each of their communities for the first "USAREUR Phenomenal Woman Scroll of Impact."
The purpose not only serves as an observance of Women's History Month, but also "highlights those women who are making history now during Women's History Month," Christi Ham said.
"Not that these selectees are the 'most' phenomenal in our communities - but they stand to represent the kinds of sisters living amongst us," she continued. "Their selection recognizes the efforts and accomplishments of many. Hence, I don't view it as selecting winners, I view it as selecting strong examples of the kinds of folks we have with us."
The Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program - an Armywide program designed to increase the resilience and enhance the performance of Soldiers, Family members and Army civilians - was the guideline for the submissions.
Using the CSF five dimensions of strength (family, social, emotional, physical and spiritual), nominators considered how the attributes of the individual selectees have contributed to three or more of the five pillars in their military communities.
USAG Grafenwoehr is proud to have two selectees in the community. Nicole Barnard and Christina Vaughn are two phenomenal women who are volunteering their time to benefit the communities that they live in.
If Barnard is not shuttling kids to school or working, she is volunteering. In addition to being the mother to three children and a Parent to Parent cadre member for the Military Child Education Coalition, Barnard is very active in her community. She volunteers with many organizations like the Grafenwoehr Community and Spouses' Club, the Protestant Women of the Chapel and her battalion family readiness group.
When asked about the honor of being selected for the U.S. Army Europe Phenomenal Woman Scroll of Impact, Barnard expressed surprise and gratitude.
"After reading the narrative, I was glad to know that I am a representative for our community," Barnard said. "I'm just like any other mom trying to juggle everything; kids, jobs and volunteering but, you get into this community and you start to see that all the women here are pretty phenomenal."
Becoming an active volunteer has given Barnard the opportunity to meet many women in the community. Her hope is that her efforts are helping to empower these women to become independent, well-informed and to create camaraderie among them. Barnard feels it is difficult for many families coming to Germany because they believe they are alone on tours without the support of their families. She wants Soldiers and families to know they are a part of a community that is here to sustain them.
Barnard stresses that the organizations Soldiers and family members become a part of will be their support system while they are in Europe. As a battalion FRG advisor, she feels that she is making a difference. Her goal is to help Soldiers and families realize that the FRG is there to help them through the good times as well as the bad.
Barnard says two good places for people to start learning more about their community are by taking the Army Family Team Building classes and Welcome to Bavaria program through Army Community Service. Although there are a lot of class opportunities online, she suggests that these classes be taken in person, "that way you get to meet new people and ask questions in person."
Like Barnard, Christina Vaughn was surprised to have the honor of the USAREUR Phenomenal Women Scroll of Influence bestowed upon her.
"I feel extremely honored to be included in this category with so many others who continually give so much to our community," Vaughn said.
Vaughn regularly volunteers in the USAG Grafenwoehr Vilseck community with the Vilseck Community and Spouses' Club (VCSC). But, she doesn't stop there. Vaughn also reaches out to Vilseck's furry citizens.
Helping animals in need is one Vaughn's pet projects. She is often conducting food and supply drives for the local animal shelters.
"I have been a volunteer for many years; it is my passion," said Vaughn. "It makes me feel good to know my efforts really do help those that need it most whether it is people or pets."
Vaughn also recommends joining the local spouses' clubs to get involved.
"Our club works really hard to support our community as well as give back to our community. VCSC provides various volunteer opportunities no matter what your skill sets are," Vaughn said.
The spouses' clubs often provide a variety of activities to help newcomers to get to know the local area and become more comfortable living in Germany. Vaughn stresses that inclusion in a local community organization can help people get to know their neighbors and the people in their community, can ease transition into a new country and provide fun and leisure activities.
Vaughn is no stranger to volunteering and her energy for helping others is infectious. This is one reason she was selected as a phenomenal woman. She encourages others to volunteer where and when they can.
"Once I saw there was a need in an area where I could contribute, I jumped right in with both feet," Vaughn said. "It is such a rewarding feeling knowing that if a spouse, family, community member or pet needs help, somehow, someway, I can give back by finding a way to help them. Using my life experiences I hope I am paying it forward."
Editor's note: U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs contributed reporting.