FORT KNOX, Ky. – Child Development Center Director Stephanie Parris and Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Business Operations Chief Melinda Stickle were both honored for their achievements during a ceremony last week alongside many of their colleagues. Both said they were surprised to discover they had been nominated for, let alone won the prestigious awards.
“I actually found out as I was walking on the stage,” said Parris.
Parris has worked for Fort Knox Child Youth Services for the past 10 years, having served in her current position for the last seven. She said she thought she was solely being recognized for her decade of service.
In addition to her 10 year certificate, Parris was given the CYS Award of Excellence. The actions which earned her the award were noted in her citation:
“She successfully handled complex job issues in the midst of a pandemic, and took care of both her staff and the children in childcare. Her resiliency was that of a true leader which trickled down through her staff and was magnified in the day-to-day operations of the Center.”
Reading through the citation afterwards, Parris said she was able to truly reflect on what she described as a “roller coaster ride” navigating the pandemic:
“I was floored. It told a story of the impact of the pandemic and the constant changes and long hours. Just to look at it on paper and say, ‘that really did happen.’”
Stickle said she knew something strange was happening when she noticed that many of her family members were in attendance. Like Parris, she also thought she was simply there to receive time-in-service recognition; however, she quickly discovered it was for much more.
“I was totally shocked and surprised,” said Stickle. “My entire family was there. My husband had arranged for my son and his wife and one of my grandchildren to be there, and my parents who are in their 80s, and my two sisters and their husbands. They all came out and I thought ‘I’m either getting fired or something’s happening.’”
Stickle was in fact about to receive the highest FMWR achievement award: The Order of the White Plume.
The new challenges Stickle faced throughout the course of the pandemic combined with her many accomplishments over her decades of government service are what contributed to her nomination for the award. Her citation reads:
“During Ms. Stickle’s 35 year career, she has remained a passionate professional, instrumental in the implementation of key business initiatives at Fort Knox. She is recognized as a trailblazer having pioneered and developed a contract mechanism, the first of its kind in the Army. Ms. Stickle’s selfless service to the Nation and Army Family embodies the spirit of The Order of the White Plume.”
Each of the ladies said they were extremely humbled by their awards, and credited those they worked with for their roles in the accolade.
“I couldn’t have gotten this award without everybody in this Center, and within the organization,” said Parris.
With close to half a century of combined time working to serve those in the military, both agreed they’re grateful for the jobs they get to do despite the challenges they often face.
“I do this because I enjoy what I do,” said Stickle, “and I like to see Soldiers and Families happy.”
Stickle said it’s not about recognition, but rather it’s about the services they have the opportunity to provide.
“You come in with a purpose and you leave every day with a purpose.”