By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterFebruary 27, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (February 27, 2014) -- Contributions from volunteers enrich the Fort Rucker community, and make activities and resources available that may not otherwise exist, and programs that benefit the most from volunteers' dedication to the installation want to make sure that their deeds do not go unnoticed.
The 2014 Fort Rucker Volunteer Program Award Recognition Ceremony is closing in and the deadline to nominate those who gave so much to the community is March 10.
"Sometimes words cannot truly express how thankful we are to our volunteers. To relay to them just how valuable they are to the program, how much they have made a difference, is sometimes difficult," said Beth Gunter, Survivor Outreach Services financial counselor. "There would be programs that we would not be able to provide to the community if it wasn't for our volunteers -- one is our youth sports programs that are run by volunteer coaches. And without those programs, it would really weaken our community."
Gunter said the gift of time is the most precious gift anyone can give, and Curtis Williams, Army volunteer corps manager, said that many of Fort Rucker's programs do not have enough people to be able to handle all of what Fort Rucker Families need. Volunteers filling that void make a large difference on the installation.
But volunteering also has its benefits to the volunteers, not just the programs they support. It is a way to network with others and a way to enhance skills.
"It creates an opportunity for participants to learn and get on-the-job experience. It is a way to learn valuable skills that they can put on their resumes, like customer service skills," said Williams.
Karyn Kaempfer has been volunteering at Fort Rucker for several years, and said she began volunteering when she found herself with ample amount of time on her hands and a desire to meet people that she might share interests with.
"Working in SOS has allowed me to learn about different services that are offered both to survivors as well as veterans. It also makes the loss of those lives we hear about on the news much more personal," she said.
Kaempfer added that she got a lot of satisfaction from volunteering because she feels like she has helped make a project happen and in small ways has made some people's lives a little better.
"Volunteering is also a great way to take your mind off your own issues. We tend to get stuck in our own lives and think that whatever our current crisis is the most important thing," she said. "Volunteering is a great way to re-focus your perspective and realize that maybe you don't have it as bad as you think. Or it might even put you in the path of someone … that has been where you are and can help you."
Williams said that nomination is a reward in itself, and for many Fort Rucker officials is a way for them to say, "We see what you're doing and we are very grateful. We want to show you how much we care about you."
There are many types of awards that volunteers can be nominated for, but only those that documented their volunteer hours in the Volunteer Management Information System, are eligible for the Garrison Recognition Certificate and the Commanding General Recognition Certificate.
For the Helping Hand Award, nominees, through their volunteer service, need to have demonstrated initiative or overcome significant challenges resulting in measured benefits to the Fort Rucker community.
For the Adult Volunteer of the Year, nominees, through their volunteer service, need to have made a significant or measurable impact benefiting Soldiers, Families and the Fort Rucker community.
For the Active Duty Volunteer of the Year, nominees, through their volunteer service, need to have made a significant or measurable impact benefiting Soldiers, Families and the Fort Rucker community.
For the Youth Volunteer of the Year, nominees, through their volunteer service, need to have made a significant or measurable impact benefiting Soldiers, Families and the Fort Rucker community.
For the Volunteer Family of the Year, members, through their volunteer service, need to have made a significant or measurable impact benefiting Soldiers, Families and the Fort Rucker community.
For the Lifetime Achievement Award, nominees need to have demonstrated continuous, outstanding volunteer service to one or more Fort Rucker agency or organization for a minimum of one year, with a total of 10 years volunteer service to the military community.
Anyone who has volunteered the past year on the installation can be nominated and anyone can nominate someone.
A committee of five Fort Rucker individuals is chosen to sit on a panel and decide on the awards. This year, four Army spouses and one Soldier sit on the committee to make sure there is fair representation.
Nominations can be submitted to Army Community Service or can be submitted online at www.ftruckermwr.com/acs/army-volunteer-corps.