HOHENFELS, Germany -- Participants in the American Red Cross / ACS Summer Youth Volunteer Program were honored with certificates, food and free bowling at a small ceremony here, Aug. 25.
The 23 teens donated a cumulative total of 972 hours, which based on the National Average of Labor Statics, represents a $21,340 savings for the community.
"We wanted to thank them for all their volunteer service and everything they've done over these eight weeks," said Sandy Mama, U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels American Red Cross assistant station manager.
In previous years, teens had the option of working in the Summer Hire Program, but limited funding kept participation necessarily low. With this year's budget cuts, the program was no longer feasible.
"This year, American Red Cross and Army Community Service collaborated and really invigorated our youth program," said Lt. Col. John J. Strange Jr., USAG Hohenfels commander. "I'm really happy with the participation, not just with the kids, but all the different service providers across the garrison."
Youths volunteered throughout the garrison, serving at such varied organizations as the Java Café, the Military Personnel Division, the library, and the post gym. Parents, supervisors and the volunteers themselves all found the experience very rewarding.
Fourteen-year-old Alexandria Day spent her time working the front desk at ACS, answering phones and helping customers.
"I wanted some experience being in a business environment to help when applying for a job," she said.
Phillip Davis, 15, said his experience as a volunteer at the dental clinic really sparked an interest in dentistry and opened up his eyes to possibilities for his future.
"I definitely want to continue volunteering at the dental clinic," he said. "Once I started it, it really changed my mind about dentistry."
Others chose their volunteer station based on a previous interest.
Ninth-grader Brande Paddock plans to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, and found volunteering at the veterinary clinic to be extremely gratifying. She filled vaccinations and was even allowed to observe a surgery.
"It wasn't as scary as I thought it would be, and if I hadn't had this experience, it would have seemed scarier as I went into my actual profession," she said.
Paddock added that she felt very lucky that Hohenfels offered this opportunity to youths.
"I think in most places you probably wouldn't be able to do this," she said.
Supervisors were just as pleased, citing their volunteers' enthusiasm, energy, commitment and willingness to do any task, no matter how menial.
"It's a great program because it returns to the community and it makes (the youths) feel part of that community," said Capt. Antonio Ortiz, whose daughter, Isabella, volunteered at the Provost Marshal Office and the Java Café. "They understand if you don't volunteer, certain things don't happen. It improves the quality of life and lets them know that, hey, it's not free. Some of these things require effort."
Ortiz said that he was impressed with how dedicated and focused his daughter was toward her new responsibility.
"She took it so serious. We were really proud of her," he said.
Terri Carr, ACS Volunteer Corps commander, not only helped facilitate the program but also got to watch her daughter, Micaela, participate.
"Our primary target was to build skill sets," said Carr, "but on a personal level, getting the opportunity to see Micaela take responsibility, watching her grow -- it means a lot."