Co-op honors community partnerships
November 29, 2012
By Jeff Crawley
FORT SILL, Okla. (Nov. 29, 2012) -- For the third consecutive year, the partnership between the 3rd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery and Arvest Bank won the Dinges Award for excellence in community service events and programs.
The award was presented by the Lawton-Fort Sill Co-op Program Nov. 20 at its 32nd annual banquet at Cameron University in Lawton.
"It's great winning and we had a great partnership with Arvest, and we hope to continue that," said Maj. Nicole Brooks, 3-6th ADA executive officer.
There's a synergy between the unit and Arvest added Command Sgt Maj. Lawrence MacDonald, 3-6th ADA CSM.
"I think it's the dedication on part of the unit and Arvest Bank," MacDonald said. "They've been an excellent partner, and it's just a great organization to work with."
In 1980, Maj. Gen. Edward Dinges and Command Sgt. Maj. Hassen Cara, Fort Sill commanding general and CSM respectively, working with the Military Affairs Council of the Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, began the Lawton-Fort Sill Co-op. Its goal was to help improve and maintain the bonds between the civilian and military communities, according to the ceremony's program. The program affiliates military units from the post with businesses and organizations in Lawton for communitywide service projects.
In 1991, the first Dinges Award was presented. As part of the banquet, the Lawton-Fort Sill Co-op's volunteer of the year is presented the Hassen Cara Award.
The Dinges Award is based on self-nomination by the unit and its business partner, and judged by the Lawton-Fort Sill Co-op Executive Committee.
"We look at how they helped the community, things they have done 'above-and-beyond,' as well as them not focusing on just one particular group," said Al Fraser, executive committe chairman. "We reviewed all their activities, and also checked to see if there was some bond built between the unit and the business."
During the year, the 3-6th ADA and Arvest supported the Spirit of Survival race in downtown Lawton. The race focused on cancer awareness and raised funds for research. In December, the alliance conducted a holiday food drive, and put together six complete meal baskets for needy families. Soldiers and bank employees enjoyed a team building experience during the Bill Smith Memorial Golf Tournament at Fort Sill during April.
In September, the United Day of Caring had the partners repairing, cleaning and painting fixtures and facilities at the Armed Services YMCA, Carter Crane Homeless Shelter and Lawton Family YMCA. The collaboration's volunteers also supported the Lawton Food Bank by preparing more than 900 food boxes for families.
Arvest Bank leaders attended and presented plaques to honor graduates at the 3-6th ADA's three Warrant Office Basic Course graduations, and three Patriot Master Gunner graduation ceremonies throughout the year.
David Madigan, Arvest Bank Southwest Oklahoma president/CEO, said the partnership was "tremendous."
"It truly is a partnership, a collaboration of working for the good not only for the community, but also our families and the Soldiers," Madigan said. "These guys are just terrific to work with."
Cara presented his namesake award to volunteer Denise Floyd, Fort Sill Federal Credit Union president/CEO. Floyd was honored for her work on the co-op executive committee as well as with the credit union's partner the 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery.
"I'm very pleased, very honored," Floyd said. "Hess Cara is a really good friend of mine. He's a great role model and a great mentor."
Keynote speaker Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, said it's a great night when the community "can celebrate this wonderful Soldier-civilian relationship."
"Events like this just highlight the bond that we have as a community," the general said. "It really cements us as the gem of Southwest Oklahoma."