By Sarah J. Schmidt, USAG Schinnen Public AffairsApril 29, 2010
SCHINNEN, Netherlands -- Volunteers at U.S. Army Garrison Schinnen and JFC HQ Brunssum contributed 26,656 service hours last year, valued at $555,777, announced Sylvia Bowron, Schinnen's Volunteer Coordinator during the Tri-Border's Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony at the JFC Conference Center, April 16.
"These volunteers bring valuable skill sets that help us enhance our existing workforce," noted Lt. Col. Fern O. Sumpter, USAG Schinnen Commander, during her keynote address at the ceremony. "That's what we call a significant force multiplier," Sumpter said.
Lt. Col. Sumpter thanked this year's outstanding volunteer award winners for their dedication and related several personal stories detailing how volunteers had made a positive difference in her life. "Your ideas and support helps us push toward our goals," she told the winners. "Often, you are invisible, supporting behind the scenes, but you pick up the slack and get things done" she said.
Recognizing behind the scenes efforts of volunteers is the purpose of the annual appreciation ceremony, explained Bowron. "Every activity in this community has volunteers helping in one or many ways; they give when needed and make the time to do it," she said.
More than 60 volunteers were recognized for their community service, including 33 bronze, silver and gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award winners who received congratulatory notes from President Barack Obama. The announcement of Volunteer of the Year winners highlighted the ceremony.
Spec. Richard Norris, assigned to the AFNORTH Battalion at JFC Brunssum, was named Military Volunteer of the Year for his work with the Boy Scouts, youth sports and his church. Norris is volunteer chaplain for the Boy Scouts, teaches Sunday School and coaches both a soccer and baseball team.
Mayra Seitz was recognized as Civilian Volunteer of the Year for her work as a volunteer chapel pianist and choir director. Seitz also directed a monthly youth mass, planned a retreat for confirmation students and led a local youth delegation at the European Catholic Youth Conference in Schoenstadt, Germany.
Trudy Wheatley received the award for Sponsor of the Year for her support to newcomers in the community. She was commended for her "above and beyond" efforts, which included meeting newcomers at the airport with homemade treats and pet sitting when newcomers couldn't keep pets in their hotels. Her support resulted in faster in-processing and easier transitions so newcomers were quickly mission ready.
Kyle Kagele won Youth Volunteer of the Year for serving as treasurer of the AFNORTH International School Student Council and working with the AFNORTH Booster Club. Kagele also recruited 50 volunteers to help with a Boy Scouts environmental clean-up project at USAG Schinnen and served as a teen delegate to Schinnen's Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) Conference.
Lyra Kramer was named Family Member Volunteer of the Year for her work as an Army Family Team Building master trainer instructor and program manager at Schinnen's ACS. Kramer is also co-treasurer of the AFNORTH Soldier and Family Readiness Group and a member of the planning team for Schinnen's AFAP Conference.
Lt. Col. David and Margaret Jensen and children, Katie, Emily, Madeline and Michael were named Volunteer Family of the Year. The Jensen family logged countless hours of service in a variety of volunteer roles. Lt. Col. Jensen is serving his third term as parish council president and also works with the Tiger Cub Scouts. Margaret coordinates the Scholastic Book program and volunteers with the PTA at AFNORTH International School. All four Jensen children actively helped with Vacation Bible School, chapel activities, and many other volunteer activities.
Volunteer of the Year winners received gift certificates, savings bonds and military service medals or civilian service pins.