FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – From tutors and coaches to prayer group leaders and firefighters, there are more than 2,000 registered volunteers on Fort Campbell working to help Soldiers and Families every day.
That volunteer workforce contributed more than 46,000 hours – approximately $1.6 million worth of labor – to the installation throughout 2020, and six of the most dedicated were recognized April 21 during a Volunteer of the Year Ceremony at division headquarters.
“We ask all kinds of things from our Families, Soldiers and employees – you name it,” said Brig. Gen. Clair Gill, deputy commanding general for support, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). “But it requires all of us to lean in, and today the recognition of these six ladies is representative of so much more that happens here on Fort Campbell.”
Award recipients this year included Kassie Peterson (Soldier and Family Readiness Groups), Yoselin Doyle (Other Agencies and Organizations), Tatum Doherty (Child and Youth Services), Dominique Wilt (Community Services) and Olivia Starz (Youth).
Each year, units and organizations at Fort Campbell that are supported by volunteers submit their top candidates to the Army Volunteer Corps coordinator to compete for Volunteer of the Year, or VOY, awards.
Also during the ceremony, the Department of the Army Emma Marie Baird Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service was presented to Vanessa Espinosa.
The Emma Marie Baird Award is a separate distinction for exemplary Army Community Service volunteers, that is reviewed by Installation Management Command, and Army Materiel Command and ap-proved by the Department of the Army.
“I’m excited and honored,” said Espinosa, the volunteer program manager for ACS Army Family Team Building, or AFTB.
“But at the same time, it’s not the main reason I volunteer,” she said. “The more you get involved in the community, the more it helps the community grow and develop resources, and one thing I’ve seen over the years is when resources aren’t used, they can be taken away.”
Espinosa has coordinated all AFTB briefs, classes and concept blocks taught to outside agencies since 2019. She also led monthly “I Married a Soldier, Now What” classes, biannual command team spouse courses and has served with Army Family Action Plan as an issue support volunteer.
The VOY award winners received Public Service Commendation Medals for their efforts during the ceremony, hosted during National Volunteer Week.
Soldier and Family Readiness Groups
“Receiving this award was very humbling and something out of my element,” said Peterson, an SFRG leader for the 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade, 101st Abn. Div.
“I love giving back and find it very rewarding to volunteer,” she said. “It helps you think beyond your-self and see the needs of other people, and it’s important to do what you can to help.”
Peterson has provided care and resources for hundreds of Soldiers and Families, boosted unit morale and took on a leadership role for other volunteers through her work with the 101st STB.
Other Agencies and Organizations
“It’s definitely an honor and a privilege to be recognized by Fort Campbell,” said Doyle, a volunteer station chairperson and medical chairperson for the American Red Cross. “I love working with the Fort Campbell community, and there’s always an opportunity to share your skills and make a positive difference … it really warms your heart at the end of the day when you’re able to help someone that’s in need or enduring a crisis.”
Doyle helps coordinate American Red Cross, or ARC, volunteer placements across the installation so the organization can assist any Soldiers and Families in need. She also worked with the station manager to keep ARC open on Fort Campbell through October 2020, months after COVID-19 had closed many other post services.
Child and Youth Services
“Being selected for the award was very humbling, but I felt very appreciated,” said Doherty, who volunteers extensively with Barsanti Elementary School. “Volunteering is giving back, and it’s teaching kids to do the same thing for our future generations … I think that’s really important, giving back to the community and setting an example.”
Doherty spent the last year packing and distributing lunches for students in remote learning, helping coordinate movie nights, raising money for new school supplies and library books, and created COVID-19 safety pawprints for when students returned to class. She also donates time to 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div.
“I was really honored to be recognized, and I enjoy helping people as they come through,” said Wilt, a volunteer with the Religious Support Office. “Without volunteers, we don’t have programs, so it’s real-ly important for people to be able to step up and offer their time, whether it be an hour or a yearlong commitment.
Wilt is involved with children’s ministry, the greeting team for Sunday services and setup and teardown for a variety of events. She also serves as the commander for the Awana program on Sunday evenings, which provides opportunities for child and youth discipleship.
“I volunteered not to be rewarded for it, but to devote myself to my military community, so I was really surprised when I got recognized,” said Starz, a senior at Fort Campbell High School and SFRG volunteer for 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div. “Military communities are made up of Families from all around the world, yet we face some of the same hardships. Volunteering has connected me to people within our community no matter who we are or where we’re from.”
Starz has helped coordinate several volunteer opportunities and organizational days for the Blue Spaders, often babysits Families’ children and worked with her mother to prepare and deliver a home-cooked meal after one of the unit’s Soldiers died.
Fort Campbell also made sure to thank the thousands of other volunteers who play a role in making the installation a better place for Soldiers and Families.
“Today is really an incredible, feel-good community event,” Gill said. “Our community wouldn’t be the great community that it is if we didn’t have the volunteers who selflessly step up and contribute so much.”