FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- With more than 40,000 hours of their time given, equaling a cost of $981,725, volunteers on Fort Rucker received recognition of their efforts during a ceremony to give thanks for what they've donated to the community.

Nearly 80 volunteers were recognized during the Fort Rucker Volunteer of the Year ceremony at The Landing's ballroom April 16 to show thanks for giving the gift of what Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, said is the most precious gift of all -- their time.

"I want to say thanks to all of the volunteers, not just to those who won in each category, but to all of them," said the general during the ceremony. "You don't get paid for what you do … but you're dedicated to making things better for our Soldiers, better for our family members and better for our civilian population.

"We would have had to pay that (almost a million dollars) to have the same services rendered if it were not for you giving of your skills, your attributes, your talents and, probably the most precious thing, that of your time, and that is very special to all of us," he said. "To each and every one of you, thank you. That's a very special gift that you have to give."

Throughout the ceremony, volunteers were recognized individually and presented with a certificate of appreciation and received and engraved glass. Volunteers of the year were also recognized in separate categories.

Winners in each category were: Monica Harmon, Youth Volunteer of the Year; Dolores Mabe, Adult Volunteer of the Year; Capt. Everett Joiner II, Active Duty Volunteer of the Year; Belinda and Mark Barker, Family Volunteer of the Year; Annie Dent, Helping Hand Award; and Edward Gilmore, Lifetime Achievement Award.

Volunteerism is a way that people can make a difference in their community, but the advantages of volunteering aren't just for the community's benefit, but for the volunteer's, as well.

"Nobody goes into volunteering and says they're going to do it for the recognition," said Mabe, who is also the Fort Rucker Army Volunteer Corps program manager. "But, I do think that when a volunteer gets recognized for their meaningful services, it's just feels good that somebody took notice. It just helps add to their sense of purpose and motivation, and reinforces what they're doing."

In addition to the recognition that volunteerism provides, it can be often used to make connections and provide work experience to list on resumes, said the program manager.

Volunteer opportunities exist across a myriad of organizations, including Army Community Service, Boy and Girl Scouts of America, Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, outdoor recreation, child and youth services, the International Military Student Office, Lyster Army Health Clinic, the thrift shop and family readiness groups, just to name a few.

In total, there are about 22 organizations that take active volunteers in about 44 different positions on Fort Rucker, said Mabe.

People come to Fort Rucker from all over the world, and making connections can be difficult, so a good place to start networking is through volunteerism, she added. If people are unsure of how to get started or what they want to do, the Army Volunteer Corps is a good place to start.

"What I like to do when I have a volunteer come in who doesn't quite know what they want to do is figure out where they might fit and we'll go through the opportunities," said the program manager.

By getting to know the volunteer, Mabe said she can better understand where their skills might benefit the community, or where they can gain work experience to beef up a resume.

People can also apply to volunteer at various organizations through the Volunteer Management Information System by visiting the VMIS website at www.myarmyonesource.com/FamilyProgramsandServices/Volunteering/VMIS/VMIShome.aspx.

Whether a seasoned volunteer or newcomer, volunteers from all walks of life are welcome, said the Adult Volunteer of the Year. For many volunteers, the time put in can help in the careers they choose to work in.

For more information, visit myarmyonesource.com or call 255-1429.