CHIEVRES, Belgium -- SHAPE and Chievres Garrison leadership thanked volunteers June 9 for their efforts in improving the joint, international community during the past year.

More than 100 community volunteers were hailed at the Army Community Service-sponsored 2009 Volunteer Recognition Ceremony and Luncheon on SHAPE.

Aca,!A"You are the healthy ones, the people who make the community stronger, the kind of people I want to be around,Aca,!A? keynote speaker Air Force Col. Jack Briggs told the audience gathered in the SHAPE Club. Briggs is the SHAPE and U.S. European Command executive officer.

Aca,!A"Volunteering has an amazing effect on us,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"When we put otherAca,!a,,cs needs before ours, we find a higher purpose and a great sense of satisfaction. All of you present know that feeling very well.Aca,!A?

The ceremony helped raise awareness of the impact volunteers have on the places Americans live and work, said U.S. Army Garrison Benelux ACS acting volunteer manager Pina Artale.

Aca,!A"They make the fabric of our community stronger with selfless service,Aca,!A? Artale said. Aca,!A"In a diverse environment such as ours, these volunteers bring a wealth of knowledge and wide-ranging skills for everyoneAca,!a,,cs benefit.Aca,!A?

Artale said volunteers not only lend their time and expertise to the community, but also save the Army substantial money.

In fact, the amount was more than $200,000 this year, which the Army would have spent for all the work the volunteers performed since the beginning of the fiscal year.

Aca,!A"If not for the volunteers, our quality of life would be impacted,Aca,!A? Artale said. Aca,!A"They perform invaluable services for us that would otherwise need to be funded somehow.Aca,!A"

Artale said donating time and service to the community is mutually beneficial, affording the volunteer an opportunity for a new job skill, a resume boost or the chance to meet like-minded people in the area.

Aca,!A"If youAca,!a,,cre new to the community, itAca,!a,,cs also a good way to learn about your new location,Aca,!A? she added. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs a way to set your family up for a great tour.Aca,!A?

Petty Officer 2nd Class John Maldonado, a yeoman with SHAPEAca,!a,,cs Allied Command Transformation, was named volunteer servicemember of the year.

Aca,!A"To me, volunteering is what it means to be part of a community,Aca,!A? Maldonado said, while expressing surprise with the honor. Aca,!A"These are all activities I already do, itAca,!a,,cs just something that gives me a chance to meet new people, learn new things and travel.Aca,!A?

Jen Wright was named volunteer of the year, while Patrick and Catherine Taylor were awarded top volunteer family. Alexa Erdogan was named top youth volunteer.

The top volunteer agency was American Family Team Building.