FORT KNOX, Ky. – With nearly 400 volunteer hours, one 1st Theater Sustainment Command Soldier embodies selfless service and continues to live the values she learned when she was young in the Dominican Republic.
“I keep the values that my mother taught me – respect, kindness and love,” said Spc. Nicole Mota, finance technician, 18th Financial Support Center, 1st TSC.
During her first year here, the specialist volunteered her time involved in projects to help Soldiers and families at Fort Knox and those in need throughout Kentucky.
Mota was introduced to the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Program when she in-processed with the 1st TSC and quickly became interested in participating when the representative told her they volunteer with Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland.
The entire Fort Knox BOSS group volunteers monthly at Feeding America’s warehouse in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where they help the non-profit organization provide free food to those in need in 42 central and southern Kentucky counties. The organization distributes over 13 million meals per year.
“I started getting involved and invited my coworkers to do activities with BOSS and programs with Morale, Welfare, and Recreation,” she said.
Mota quickly became vice president of 1st TSC’s BOSS group and is now the president.
She embraced the role because she wanted to make more of a commitment to do the right thing and to communicate with single Soldiers in 1st TSC.
Mota has a history of volunteerism. She volunteered to feed the hungry in the Dominican Republic and then with her church in her second home of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico.
“My mother taught me the importance of being considerate of others who are in need and she told me that we need to do something to change the world and make it better,” she said.
Mota also volunteers with the American Red Cross here. She picks up food donations, helps with warehouse yard sales on Saturdays, and packs bags of food at the commissary for the Fort Knox food pantry.
“I am honoring my family when I help feed the hungry,” she said.
Mota has seen the impact she makes on her community.
“I saw a Soldier once with a bag of food from the food pantry and I recognized my handwriting on the bag, so I know I packed it at the commissary,” Mota smiled.
She also volunteers with 1st TSC’s Soldiers and Family Readiness Group for special events. She’s taken the lead organizing set-up and break down for events, cleaned gravestones at the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery, and volunteered at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10281.
“Spc. Mota has dedicated numerous hours caring for Soldiers and their families,” Theresa Scott, family programs assistant, 1st TSC, said.
“She is a true role model for others to emulate, and she has earned our deepest appreciation. Her steady support has measurably enhanced the unit and local community,” Scott praised.
She also strives to do that as a Soldier. Mota enlisted because she wanted to do something different with her life.
Prior to entering Basic Combat Training, Mota attended an Army school for Soldiers with English as a second language. As the first in her family to join the Army, she now sets her sights on completing Officer Candidate School, hoping to be commissioned as an officer.
Mota enlisted after already completing her master’s degree in Accounting from Inter-American University in Puerto Rico.
She said that she had more opportunity and convenience living in Puerto Rico than when she lived on a farm in the Dominican Republic.
“We had running water and electricity for 24 hours a day, which we didn’t always have in the Dominican Republic,” she said.
She fondly remembers where she raised cows, pigs, and chickens and still has family living on the farm in the D.R. It’s one of her favorite places to visit.
“We used to have to go to the river and gather water in buckets, and our donkey carried it back to the farm,” she recalled.
Mota attributes her giving spirit to both her mother and grandmother.
“I have two mothers – my mother and my grandmother,” she said.
“My mother sacrificed a lot so that I could have more opportunities and go to college in Puerto Rico, and she continues to ensure that I do the right thing.”
Mota believes that leadership is a privilege, not a right. As she continues to lead as a volunteer with 1st TSC and the greater Fort Knox and Kentucky community, she said she will always raise her hand, even when she does not know how to do something. She will never give up even when she is tired.
Community work is a commitment for Mota. She considers it both a responsibility and a privilege.
“I wake up every morning, and I look at my reflection in the mirror. When I see myself in the U.S. Army uniform, I know that I want to do the right thing and be a better human being, help my Army to be better, and help my community to be better,” she said.
Mota believes that by doing small things, we can make changes in the world and that helping other people is a large part of it.
“When you see that something is going wrong with someone, you should offer them kindness because maybe that’s what they need – my mother told me that,” she said.