By Mark Iacampo, U.S. Army Garrison Public AffairsApril 28, 2014
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Hohenfels celebrated the many volunteers who are "changing lives and communities" at a recognition ceremony, here, April 23.
Of the 247 volunteers registered in the Volunteer Management Information System, 29 were called forth for the special distinction of volunteering more than 250 hours. Three others were recognized for donating more than 1000 hours of their time, and an additional seven were selected as Volunteers of the Year in a variety of categories.
"We all know there are thousands of people in our community who volunteer on a daily basis who are not registered, who just do it because it's the right thing to do," said Col. John G. Norris, Joint Multinational Readiness Center commander.
"This year has been a particularly challenging year for our community," said Lt. Col. John J. Strange Jr., U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels commander, noting that budget cuts and reduced resources have decreased services in the community.
"It was volunteers from within our community who filled the gap, not because they were told to, but because they saw something that needed to be done and they wanted to contribute," Strange said.
"As less funding has been available for programs, more members of this community have pulled together, committed their precious time and talents, and found a way to succeed in keeping the noble spirit of Hohenfels alive," said guest-speaker, Beth Watkins.
One example of this is the American Red Cross / ACS Summer Youth Volunteer Program that sprang up last year to replace the Youth Summer Hire program that was cancelled from lack of funding.
"While the youth served and bolstered our community, the program built character and confidence, taught skill, and promoted social consciousness," said Watkins, whose two daughters participated in the program. "Selflessness, public spirit, and the ability to see the bigger picture; when I see how many kids in our community embrace these traits, it makes me feel pretty good about our future generation."
High school senior Trevor Tufts was a leader in the Red Cross program last year, spearheading the "Lifesavers: Be your family's Superhero" event, an interactive presentation instructing children on how to respond in the event of an emergency. Tufts earned Youth Volunteer of the Year for his efforts in the community.
"It's pretty exciting to be recognized by all of Hohenfels," said Tufts, adding that his motivation comes from a desire to help others and improve the community.
Active Duty Volunteer of the Year, 1st. Lt. Jacob Hartson, JMRC Headquarters and Headquarters Company, said serving others was a large part of why he joined the military, and that volunteering was merely an extension of that desire.
"Winning was completely unexpected," he said. "There are plenty of volunteers in this community; it could have gone to anybody."
Brett and Jessica Meadows, who created a women's softball league from scratch last year, were named Military Family Volunteers of the Year. Both said being recognized was an honor and a privilege.
"The hours we devote to the children, spouses, and Soldiers have been repaid in full through the lasting friendships we have developed as a result," said Brett.
"The time my husband and I dedicate is only to help our community stay strong, 'Army Strong,'" added Jessica. "In the end, we are one community and we work together, keeping Hohenfels the best 'hidden secret' it is."
Collectively, Hohenfels' volunteers donated 27,975 hours, saving the government approximately $557,262 last year.
"That's an important metric," said Norris. "But I want to focus on the contributions that everybody makes to this community on a daily basis. We are a strong team because of the people who were recognized here today, and the people who contribute and give us opportunities and capacity where there are none.
"You can't put a price on that."