CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. - The Chesterfield County School Board, and Superintendent Marcus Newsome, hosted a yearly recognition breakfast March 28 for businesses and community organizations, who volunteer in support of the public school system.

Newsome kicked off the breakfast by thanking all those who donate and support Chesterfield County Public Schools. His remarks echoed a theme woven throughout the event -- volunteers play a vital role in the academic and social success of students. He said while CCPS appreciates all the donations they receive, the thing that makes the most impact for students is the time contributed to helping them reach their potential.

During the event, CCPS recognized those volunteers that the schools identified as their key partners. Volunteers being honored included businesses, PTA leaders, churches and other community organizations throughout the county. More than 300 attended the annual event.

"Business and community partnerships are vital for our school system," said Dianne Smith, chair, CCPS. Contributing to schools "helps each child grow intellectually, achieve at the highest level and prepare for a world that demands lifelong learning."

Three organizations received special recognition for their volunteer efforts:

• Midlothian Rotary Club for supporting students -- The Midlothian Rotary Club sponsors the annual Students of the Year celebration and is involved throughout the year promoting literacy and mentoring students.
• Combined Arms Support Command for supporting schools -- CASCOM connects Fort Lee Soldiers with schools through activities that include mentoring, physical fitness initiatives, leadership development programs and playground and school track improvements.
• PTAs and the Chesterfield County Council of PTAs for supporting staff -- The 55 school PTAs supply volunteers, support teachers and connect students with opportunities. The Chesterfield County Council of PTAs supports the school PTAs with leadership training and resources.

The keynote speaker was Tom Yeager, who is in his 29th year as the commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association. His remarks focused on how everyone working together will help "enable the dream."

Volunteering goes back to sharing core values, and encouraging youth to work hard to achieve their dreams, he said. "You don't know the impact you have on others through your actions. It might be something routine to you, but it ignites the spark in someone else."

Helping to ignite the spark in youth has been one of the results of the community engagement program developed by the Combined Arms Support Command, located at Fort Lee, Virginia. The Community Connect program has helped to enhance and further build on the solid foundation that exists between CASCOM organizations and their surrounding communities.

CASCOM, a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, is responsible for training over 185,000 students annually through more than 540 courses taught by the Ordnance, Quartermaster and Transportation Schools, Soldier Support Institute and the Army Logistics University.

Community Connect helps the military and our community partners connect, enhancing the understanding of the military and further developing the strong and positive relationship that exists. The program's goals are to enhance understanding of today's military, encourage a culture of engagement and help "Tell the Army Story," as well as develop and maintain strong and positive community partnerships.

Engagement opportunities support the development of our service members and help keep them Army Strong. It also provides an opportunity to instill their values, ethos and leadership within the community.

Communities benefit from volunteer hours provided by the military, which enhance schools, civic and veteran projects, parks and historic landmarks. By investing time in these projects, service members form an appreciation for their community, add value through their example, and support and strengthen interpersonal ties.

Volunteering in the community is an important part of developing our Soldiers, said Lt. Col. Steven N. Carozza, commander, 16th Ordnance Battalion, 59th Ordnance Brigade. "Community engagement gives us an opportunity to impart in our Soldiers a lifelong lesson of giving back to those local communities that give so much to us."

The pilot program kicked off in November 2012 between the County of Chesterfield and the U.S. Army Ordnance School. Outreach projects in CCPS were led by the 59th Ordnance Brigade, on behalf of the Ordnance School, and included initiatives such as: Table Talk; promoting physical fitness with students and parents to ensure lifelong fitness; area beautification projects, such as playground and track improvements; reading and math enhancement programs; mentorship engagements; A.W.A.R.E (Awesome Warriors Achieving Rigorous Excellence) engagements to encourage personal achievement, both academically and socially; resiliency programs geared towards teens; and supporting Military Appreciation Week and career day events.

Through the pilot's success, the program has been expanded to provide the entire CASCOM Team opportunities to support volunteer outreach projects throughout the region. Both the U.S. Army Ordnance and Quartermaster schools were honored for their support during the event.

Volunteering helps "instill a culture of service," said Lt. Col. Les D. Begley, commander, 832nd Ordnance Battalion, 59th Ordnance Brigade. "Through volunteer outreach, our Soldiers learn the importance of selfless service, not only to our military but to our neighbors outside the gates of the installation."

(Note: Chesterfield County Public Schools contributed to this article.)