By Mr. Robert H Mcelroy (IMCOM)November 7, 2008
USAG-HUMPHREYS, South Korea-150 Soldiers, Family Members, Retirees and Civilian volunteers joined 60 Korean volunteers Saturday morning Oct. 25 for the first-ever Make A Difference Day in Korea at Deog Dong San park in Pyeongtaek near here.
USA Weekend Magazine created Make a Difference Day about 18 years ago as national day of helping others -- a celebration of neighbors helping neighbors, according to their website, http://www.usaweekend.com/diffday/aboutmadd.html. Make A Difference Day is an annual event that takes place on the fourth Saturday of every October.
Denise Chappell, Humphreys Army Community Service Volunteer Coordinator was the chief organizer of the event; she said it was a way to bring a new American tradition to Korea and a chance for Humphreys volunteers to give back to the local community.
Included in the group of Humphreys volunteers were: Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, Soldiers from the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers chapter, members of the Retiree Council and unit representatives.
The Korean volunteers came from the Pyeongtaek Joongang Chapter Goodwill, Cooperation and Service organization, also known in Korean as the Bright Society.
The volunteers spent the morning picking up trash, cleaning out storm drains and ditches and performing beautification projects around the park. Following the work session, volunteers enjoyed lunch and a traditional Korean dance performance by students from Shin Han Middle School.
In his remarks at the close of the event, Humphreys Garrison commander, Col. John E. Dumoulin, Jr. said he was proud of all the volunteers-- American and Korean-- who participated in the first-in-Korea Make a Difference Day. Dumoulin encouraged everyone to continue volunteering on post and off. Doing so, he said, ensures Humphreys and the local community remain great places in which to live and work.
Chappell said she was thrilled with the event's success.
"I thought it was wonderful, it was so heartwarming for our American volunteers to interact with the Korean volunteers and not just when they were working but after when they were making new friends," Chappell said.
Chappell said that the event left a positive impression on many who participated.
"Some people want to go back to the park and bring their families and to do work," she said. "They felt a real pride of ownership in it, just like Col. Dumoulin says about Humphreys."
Chappell said that some of the volunteers want to return to the park to continue the beautification and to rest and relax. Deog Dong San Park has walking and fitness trails, exercise stations, badminton courts and a playground for children.
"People were very, very happy, they want to go back and visit the park," she said.