By Mr. Wallace McBride (Fort Jackson)April 18, 2019
Fort Jackson celebrated the efforts of its volunteers April 12 with a reception recognizing their outstanding achievements not only in 2018, but throughout the history of the installation.
The ceremony capped National Volunteer Week, established in 1974 to inspire, recognize and encourage people to seek out innovative ways to engage with their communities. The honors issued during the event ranged from the quarterly Commanding General's Helping Hand Award, to the inductions into the Fort Jackson Volunteer Hall of Fame.
"Today we honor volunteers for choosing freely to make a difference," said Marilynn Bailey, Fort Jackson's volunteer service coordinator, as she kicked off the ceremony.
"Our volunteers are truly the heartbeat of our community," said Brig. Gen. Milford H. "Beags" Beagle Jr., Fort Jackson commander, who was on hand with Command Sgt. Maj. Jerimiah Gan to award and congratulate last week's volunteers.
"If our volunteers were to stop doing what they do for a second, for an instant, we would all feel that impact," Beagle said. "The impact in our chapels, our schools, our basic training units and other units on the installation ... our youth sports, our spouses groups and many other areas across the Army community. We would feel that impact far and wide."
Nominees were selected by a volunteer organization or by a unit for having contributed "exceptional volunteer service." Fort Jackson's Volunteers of the Year are:
Family Member/Civilian Category: Erin Pieri
Pieri served as battalion advisor, and "leads an extremely successful Family Readiness Group and leads by example," Bailey said. "She served as the company photographer for three cycles ... Erin is a team player and lends her advise and expertise to other FRG advisors and leaders. She's a member of the Victory Spouses Club and a driving force behind (a community food drive) program."
Retiree Category: Juan Burgos-Rivera
Burgos-Rivera volunteers with the Catholic community at the Main Post Chapel. Bailey said his "daily and quiet service of setting up and breaking down the required religious elements, tables, articles and items required for noon mass and holy days is done out of love for this community and serving God."
Youth Category: Leah Pierre
Pierre is the president of the Fort Jackson American Red Cross VolunTEENS. Bailey said she is "loyal, dedicated, respectable, humble and is an asset to Fort Jackson, Columbia, her Family, school district and everywhere she serves."
Active Duty Military Category: Maj. Shawn Ross
Bailey said Ross is a "supportive and active member of the 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment Family Readiness Group. He was instrumental in organizing the holiday party and is key to the 2-13 Gives Bac k events, which included collecting food for the local food bank, homeless children and other organizations in need."