By Patricia DealJune 13, 2019
FORT HOOD, Texas-Everyone has different reasons for why they volunteer their time to help their communities. For some Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center volunteers, their reason for volunteering is rooted in their upbringing, and flourishes as they live the Army values.
Sgt. Angel Santamaria, who was recently named CRDAMC's Volunteer of the Year, said he doesn't do it for a piece of paper or medal. He does it for a reward much greater than that.
"Helping others and giving back is just who I am, how I was raised. My mother instilled that Christian spirit in me when I was very young and encouraged me to serve my community and help my neighbors throughout my life," the medical supply clerk said.
Santamaria is credited for 500 hours of volunteer service to the Soldiers, Civilians, Retirees, and Family members of CRDAMC, Fort Hood and the local area. He routinely helps the command's Department of Ministry and Pastoral Care, Family Readiness Group and Adopted School with their events throughout the year.
In addition to the volunteer work he does for his church in Killeen, he devotes much of his time working with children. He coaches youth soccer for the Fort Hood Youth Sports and Fitness program and works with his church's Kids in Action Studios program.
"Ministry and taking care of others is what my life is all about. It's never about me. I answer to a higher calling," Santamaria said. "That's what I like about the Army-the idea of selfless service is drilled into each Soldier. The Army values aligns with my own values of serving others without expecting anything in return and putting the needs and welfare of others above your own."
Sanatamaria said that with the demands of the Army, plus a wife and two very young children, he has to work hard to find that healthy balance of work, family and helping others.
"But just as my mother did with me, I will lead by example and get my kids involved in volunteering, hoping to instill in them that spirit of giving to others," he said.
Staff Sgt. Jacob Culver is another CRDAMC Soldier who credits his upbringing for his commitment to volunteering and helping others.
Culver, a behavioral health specialist, works as CRDAMC's Troop Command financial specialist, barracks manager and Adopted School program coordinator. Despite his busy schedule, studying for a degree and his responsibilities of husband and father to five children, Culver volunteers at his church and community and coaches youth football and basketball teams
"I grew up in the church and my parents taught me to always give back whenever, whatever and wherever I can. I feel that is the ultimate show of love towards others when you're able to give," Culver said. "It is not about just giving monetary things, or even physical things. Sometimes it's just as simple as lending support to someone."
One of his first jobs was working with CYS and from that point forward, Culver said he just loves to work with the youth so it's natural for him to be passionate about the Adopted School program.
"I think it is an awesome program. The school has been very appreciative of all the things we've been doing with the students. Our interacting with them, tutoring them, helping them with their school projects really does make an impact," Culver said. "The kids benefit from the attention and the Soldiers who volunteer also benefit as they get away from the stresses of work for a little bit. There's nothing better than seeing the smiles on the kids' faces. It is a win-win for everyone."
Culver believes the Soldiers who volunteer their time with the hospital or in their communities truly exemplify the Army values, especially doing something without thought of recognition or gain. But Culver feels it's important to give the volunteers recognition.
"I know that they aren't concerned about receiving anything for volunteering. Many of them don't track their volunteer hours in the Volunteer Management System, or even know they can do it," he said. "With VMS, they can track time they spend volunteering on post and in the community. It's a good way for the Army to capture their efforts and give them a bit of recognition. So in addition to that feeling of satisfaction of giving back, they can also receive promotion points, a volunteer ribbon and recognition at the Hood Heroes award ceremony."