Volunteers choose to make a difference
April 26, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The Army could not function without the time and labor contributed each year by volunteers, Fort Jackson's commanding general said last week.
"Volunteers choose to make a difference, and they do," Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts said April 20 at a volunteer recognition reception at the Solomon Center. "Throughout history, Army volunteers have accomplished amazing and powerful things. I don't know how we do anything without volunteers, and it's a good thing we never have to figure it out."
Fort Jackson's volunteers of the year were recognized during the reception across a variety of categories, with five men and women also inducted into the post's Volunteer Hall of Fame.
"Hundreds of people give their time, talent and energy every day to help strengthen the Army community," Roberts said. "(They) volunteer in Army family programs, chapels, schools, Family Readiness Groups, youth sports and in surrounding Columbia community organizations."
Fort Jackson's Volunteers of the Year:
- Retiree Category: Herman Washington volunteers 40 hours each month as president of the men's choir at Daniel Circle Chapel. He also plays bass for DCC Music Ministry and participates in five choirs at the chapel. Why he was nominated: "His volunteer services provide comfort and enhance the gospel music on Fort Jackson. He is at the chapel four days a week practicing with each choir. As president of the men's choir, he coordinates engagements as the choir travels to different churches in the community. His unselfish spirit is a tremendous asset at Daniel Circle Chapel."
- Youth Category: Cody Gorski has participated in the VolunTeen Program since March 2011 and has contributed more than 90 hours during the year. Why he was nominated: "(Gorski has done) things such as teaching hygiene (hand washing) to children at the CDC through Red Cross Scrubby the Bear program. He took the lead for the skit, being the narrator. He participated in the Red Cross booth at Armed Forces Day on Hilton Field, providing games and prizes to children attending the event. He volunteered during the summer in Same Day Surgery at MACH and was trusted enough to be the only teen able to observe surgery. He has given exemplary service to Fort Jackson while also maintaining his high school and extracurricular activities."
- Active Duty Military Category: Staff Sgt. Nicole Steinbring volunteers with Shriners Hospital for Children, as well as with local Breast Cancer Awareness competitive runs. During the holiday season, she helped cook and deliver meals to local emergency service sites. Why she was nominated: "Nicole Steinbring is assigned to Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment where she epitomizes the very spirit of volunteerism and represents the very best of our Army values through her selfless service ... Her steadfast commitment to our core values, depth of character and uncompromising dedication to others serve as a shining example for all members of our profession, both in and out of uniform."
- Family Member/Civilian Category: Sandy Ryan volunteers 100 hours a month as the 171st Infantry Brigade senior adviser, and ACS Army Family Team Building volunteer program manager. Why she was nominated: "If there was ever someone deserving of Fort Jackson's Volunteer of the Year award, it is Sandy Ryan. For the past year, Sandy has volunteered as senior adviser for the 171st Brigade and has become the 'face' of the Brigade's family readiness program. She acts as principle adviser to the commander and Family Readiness Group leaders on matters related to military families. Her primary duty is to support the commander's readiness goals for about 500 families assigned to the unit, confident that if the families are taken care or, their Soldiers are better able to focus on the Army mission."
Volunteer Hall of Fame
- William "Bill" Bartlett has volunteered as an emergency communications caseworker for four years, providing messages for Soldiers and family members to keep them properly informed in times of an emergency. He serves as the Red Cross liaison at the S.C. State Emergency Management Operations Center. Why he was nominated: "He has been a wealth of information, knows the resources to locate service members when families back home cannot... and ensures command and outservice members receive emergency messages regarding the death or illness of a loved one."
- Eric Horner volunteers as a musician on Fort Jackson and has participated in more than 200 concerts this year. Why he was nominated: "His leadership and vocal skills ensured increased morale at hundreds of Family Days, graduations, worship services, prayer breakfasts, concerts, unit and community events. He possesses a unique balance of patriotism and spiritual balance that has allowed him to enrich hundreds of events and connect with individuals and groups before, during and after performances."
- Joyce Kunesh volunteers as a tagging clerk and merchandiser at the Thrift Shop. Why she was nominated: "As a volunteer, Joyce arrives ready for work and iligently sets out to accomplish her tasks for the day. She meets customers, consigners and everyone else that comes into the Thrift Shop with a smile and makes sure everyone feels welcome."
- Ruben Vargas volunteers 35 hours a week as the Hispanic Protestant Worship minister for Fort Jackson. Why he was nominated: "His leadership, organizational and worship skills ensure that thousands of Hispanic Soldiers receive spiritual fitness and cultural connection. At the end of training cycle programs, he ensures that hundreds of visiting families are welcomed and understand the significance of the Army as an extended family."
- Claire Paige Zeigler volunteers 15 hours each month as an outpatient pharmacy volunteer at MACH. Why she was nominated: "Zeigler has been a volunteer with Moncrief Army Community Hospital through the American Red Cross, providing this service since 2003. She is a steadfast, dedicated volunteer. She is pleasant and willing to do whatever is needed to help patients."