Prolific quilt-maker honored for outstanding service at Fort Bragg
May 10, 2012
In 2007, the Armed Service Youth Men's Christian Association sent Lisa Cyrulik quilts for her sons Grant, now 8, and Jackson, now 9, during her husband's deployment. The quilts displayed pictures of her husband and sons centered on fabric that had a Spiderman theme on the front and a hot wheels theme on the back. After receiving these quilts, Cyrulik said, "I have to do this for others," and she began volunteering at the Fort Bragg ASYMCA.
Cyrulik, a substitute teacher as well as a wife and mother, has been volunteering at the ASYMCA for the past five years and was recognized for having volunteered over 1,000 hours at a luncheon held on April 23, at the Fort Bragg Sports USA.
Cyrulik participates in Operation Kid Comfort, which is headed by Andrea K. Tebbe, one of the staff members at the ASYMCA.
"We love having her here," said Tebbe the Fort Bragg Operation Kid Comfort program coordinator.
"Operation Kid Comfort is a program where people send in pictures of parents who are deployed and we then turn them into quilts for their children," said Tebbe.
The quilts are for ages six and under and have nine pictures of the deployed parent sewn onto pieces fabric picked according to the age and gender of the child. The ASYMCA provides all the materials that are needed to make the quilts. Everything used for the quilts is donated, and all of the work is done by volunteers and four staff members, explained Cyrulik.
Cyrulik sews six to 20 quilts per month. "She has sewn over 166 quilts," said Tebbe. She makes these quilts in her home, where she is most comfortable. While it is possible to make quilts at the ASYMCA building, Cyrulik prefers to remain behind the scenes and work at her residence.
"At first no one knew who I was," said Cyrulik. She would only go to the ASYMCA to get the materials for the quilts, complete them and then drop them off.
The modest 39-year-old prefers to work behind the scene. But her hard work and dedication has made her stand out.
"My first year at the ASYMCA I was awarded Volunteer of the Year," said Cyrulik. She also earned the Iron Mike Pin, the Iron Mike Bronze Star, the Iron Mike Silver Star and Mary E. Walker for her volunteer work on Fort Bragg.
Cyrulik earned the Iron Mike Pin for her completion of 350 volunteer hours. Later, she earned the Iron Mike Bronze Star for completing 500 hours of service with a direct impact on the ASYMCA's goals after that earned the Iron Mike Silver Star for completion of 750 hours of service, in addition to receiving the Mary E. Walker for exceptional volunteer service beyond the installation level.
Although Cyrulik is appreciative of her awards, she said she feels that she doesn't deserve them. "I never feel like I do enough," she said.
"There was a gentleman, the year I got the Iron Mike Silver Star, who was going for the Iron Mike Gold Star. He volunteered 3,000 hours with the Wounded Warrior Transition Battalion and helped 350 Soldiers. That's who deserves an award. He had a direct impact on people's lives; I just sew quilts," said Cyrulik.
Lisa's husband, Lt. Col. John Cyrulik, commander of Task Force Wolfpack from the 1st Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, who is now deployed to eastern Afghanistan, loves her sewing, she said.
"But I don't sew when he is home," said Cyrulik. One of the many reasons Cyrulik says she enjoys making the quilts is that she can work sewing around her schedule and is still able to get the quilts to the ASYMCA in an appropriate timeframe.
Along with sewing quilts for the ASYMCA, Cyrulik also volunteers with the running program at her sons' school, Howard Hall Elementary, where she also works. She is the Family readiness group advisor for her husband's battalion, and she drops off baby bundles to the hospital on post whenever possible.
Although Cyrulik may feel that her work is minimal, she says it's had a positive impact on her sons.
"They now know that if you have time to give to others you give it. They see the bigger picture now and I appreciate that."