By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterApril 25, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 25, 2013) -- The Fort Rucker Family gathered to salute individuals who selflessly serve the community April 22 at The Landing during the 2012 Volunteer Appreciation ceremony.
Volunteers often give days, months and years of their time to Fort Rucker or other installations, and although they do not work for recognition, the award ceremony honors their service.
Although all volunteers give time and sacrifice personal needs for the betterment of the community, many were recognized for their overwhelming amount of volunteer hours, and Fort Rucker officials tipped their hats to those who freely gave so much.
Volunteers take the time personally to engage the welfare of others, according to Col. Douglas Gabram, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, and they bring with them their life experiences, abilities, skills, compassion, intellect and humor.
"You provide [these things] to give someone enjoyment, hope and strength, and perhaps even the courage to face another day," he said. "Volunteers can be one of the most influential resources we have at an installation in affecting change and improving the lives of those around us. Your valued contributions played a large part in Fort Rucker receiving the [Chief of Staff of the] Army Community of Excellence Gold Award and together you were able to log over 36,000 hours."
Angel Mangum, wife of U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, said that the amount of time volunteers have put into the installation is enormous.
"If you think about 36,000 hours, that is 18 full-time positions, or 36 part-time positions," she said after thanking the volunteers.
Volunteer of the Year awards were presented in six categories: Active Duty Volunteer of the Year, Volunteer Family of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Volunteer of the Year, Youth Volunteer of the Year, Helping Hand Award and Adult Volunteer of the Year.
Active Duty Volunteer of the Year, Sgt. 1st Class Jorge Jimenez, is a driving force as the praise band leader for the contemporary worship services, directing weekly rehearsals, selecting songs and training new members. He also serves as the lead projects officer for the Wings Chapel annual Purity Ball.
Volunteer Family of the Year was awarded to the Simmons Family. They were recognized for their significant impact on the Fort Rucker community through the Protestant Chapel. They assisted in the kitchen with preparation, purchase and safety of food. They also devoted time to vacation bible school, children's church, Sunday school, youth of the chapel ministry, dramas and religious education programs and seasonal education programs.
Darcy Lynch was recognized as the Lifetime Achievement Volunteer of the Year. Lynch was presented the award for her continuous dedication and commitment to the total Army Family, spanning 14 years and six duty stations. She has contributed more than 10,000 combined hours as an Army volunteer. Locally, Lynch helped the Holiday Bazaar raise more than $10,000 for scholarship and welfare programs, making it the Fort Rucker Spouses Club's most successful fundraiser in history, has served as the "Flightlines" editor and she is the director of the children's ministry. Nationally, Lynch acted as the fundraiser chair for Parent-Teacher Associaton in Hawaii, the senior Family readiness adviser in Kentucky and even served as the community mayor in Kansas.
The Youth Volunteer of the Year, Colin Wright, dedicated his time to the Wings Chapel contemporary service. He plays the drums Sunday mornings and helps other youth to develop their musical skills. Along with his time with the praise band, Wright helped start up a youth ministry prayer team. Wright has dedicated 684 hours to the Fort Rucker Chapel and community. His service projects include helping senior adults with yard work, collecting shoe boxes filled with supplies for the annual Christmas Child ministry and helping with seasonal chapel programs.
Adult Volunteer of the Year, Gretchen Levine, was nominated by two separate entities and volunteers with multiple organizations on the installation. Notable among her commitments is her service as the second vice president of the Fort Rucker Community Spouses Club, chairman of the thrift shop board and Worthwhile Information Needing Distribution meeting representative. She also concurrently teaches Army Family Team Building and the "Get Real" class for Army Community Service. She has helped the Thrift Store raise more than $30,000 in scholarships and about $40,000 in welfare to Fort Rucker communities annually. This year, Gretchen has contributed more than 1,100 hours while assisting seven different organizations.
The Helping Hand award recipient, Christin James, demonstrated initiative, creating a program to reach out and provide learning tools for Family members. She is a leader within the Army Family Team Building Program and the Army Family Action Plan process. James also serves as the volunteer program manager for AFTB and she participated in the Army's Master Trainer Program. She is the only volunteer chosen by Fort Rucker to receive that certification and training.
Volunteers with more than 100 hours were also recognized at the ceremony.