FORT MONROE, Va. - An Army Family member here was among the 10 finalists of the 5th annual Military Spouse Awards Heroes at Home Competition that culminated with a special recognition luncheon at Naval Station Norfolk on May 7.

Jacquie McCall is the spouse of Lt. Col. Michael C. McCall, Chief of Assistance and Investigations in the TRADOC Inspector General Office. He was the one who nominated her for the competition, and he said he isn't the least bit surprised that she was named a finalist out of the 105 spouses entered this year.

"When I first saw that they were looking for nominations, I immediately thought of Jacquie. She volunteers for a lot of things, but it wasn't until I had to list them that I realized just how much she was doing in our community. I was so proud when she was announced as a finalist."

"My husband is so sweet to even put me in for this award," Jacquie said. "This whole experience has been truly awesome and a little surreal at times. It was a little humbling also to stand next to all those other nominees at the ceremony and hear how much they do. In the end, you realize just how big of a contribution military spouses make to the communities in which they live."

Jacquie's list of volunteer service activities at Monroe includes her current role as the hospitality hostess for the Fort Monroe Spouses and Civilians Club. She has been involved in fundraisers for the scholarship and welfare programs, and she was part of the working committee for last month's FMSCC Wounded Warrior Project run here that drew more than 900 participants.

Up until last October when she landed a part-time nursing job at a local hospital, Jacquie served as a volunteer soccer coach for Fort Monroe Youth Sports. She also is a den leader for her sons' Cub Scout troop.

"Activities that help kids is especially important to me," she noted. "A lot of times, volunteers are the only thing that keeps those programs going."

Room mom, cafeteria monitor, chaperone and fundraiser for Saint Mary Star of the Sea School can be added to her list of contributions as well. "I'm the room mom for both of my son's classes, so I help the teachers whenever needed. Each family is required to volunteer 30 hours every year, but I go way beyond that. I also do a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff for the Parent-Teacher Association."

On top of all that, she has been a regular volunteer at the Saint Mary Star of the Sea Church over the past year.

"I'm a Eucharistic minister, and I schedule families to bring up the gifts at Mass as well as other odd jobs as needed," Jacquie said. "We live right beside the church, so I do other odds and ends, like take the trash out and use my nurse training to take the blood pressures of elderly parishioners once a month."

The McCall's two children also volunteer. "It's monkey see, monkey do," Jacquie quipped. "I want to teach good morals and have a good base for my kids. Unless I walk the walk, I can't very well talk the talk."

One big benefit of volunteering, McCall said, is how quickly you get to know your community. That's especially important when you're a new arrival in search of ways to "connect" with the military families in the area. "I know I've developed some great friends through volunteer work. It really makes you a special part of the military community."

Born in Canada, Jacquie earned a degree in nursing at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ontario before she moved to the states in hopes of finding a better job. She married Michael, then an Army Reservist, in 1998. Spurred by the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the McCalls joined the active duty family in 2002. They completed tours at Fort Leavenworth, Kans., Fort Drum, N.Y., and Cleveland, Ohio, prior to their current assignment at Fort Monroe.

"I guess I share the opinion that the military is one great big family," she said. "That's just one more reason to get involved. You're helping out your neighbors and your friends ... people who are experiencing the same challenges and lifestyle as you are.

"I find it kind of easy to volunteer, but sometimes it can be overwhelming," Jacquie admitted. "Even though I have a lot of shoulders to lean on and a lot of great friends; I also have a husband who may have to (deploy or go TDY) at a moment's notice, or whose schedule may change at any given time. Then we have our two growing boys, demanding jobs and a long list of commitments.

"It can get a little crazy at times. I like to think I am very organized and keep a very good calendar, but I know that's not always true. Luckily my job is flexible, and I can usually schedule work around my family and other commitments. It's challenging trying to get everything done at once, but I just roll with the punches."

(Casemate staff writer Patricia Radcliffe contributed to this story.)