FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 19, 2012) -- Tremendous dedication. Heart. Love for the community. Those were the words used to describe Fort Rucker volunteers during a recognition ceremony April 17 at The Landing.

"There is a lot of support from our volunteers," said Col. Jessie O. Farrington, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence deputy commander, at the ceremony. "If they didn't do it, we wouldn't get a lot of things done here in our community."

Overall, Fort Rucker volunteers gave 33,415 hours through 497 different positions last year, according to Karen Hayes, Army Volunteer Corps Program manager for Army Community Service.

"The annual volunteer luncheon is just a small way for the installation to thank everyone that contributes to our local programs, organizations and agencies," she explained. "Without all these individuals, many programs and organizations would cease to exist … there are hundreds more volunteers out there that do not report their hours and we thank them as well."

During the ceremony, Farrington and Kim Crutchfield, spouse of Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, USAACE and Fort Rucker commanding general, presented framed certificates to volunteers who had logged more than 1,000 hours. That group included Therese Erthal with the chapel, Darcy Lynch with the chapel and the spouses club, Ernest Smith Jr. with the Directorate of Public Works, and Donna Woodham with the Fort Rucker Thrift Shop.

Farrington and Crutchfield also presented a framed Commanders Certificate to Volunteer of the Year winners in five different categories. The 2011 Volunteer of the Year winners include:

Darcy Lynch: Adult Volunteer of the Year

Lynch, a military spouse and mother of three, has been active in the Main Post Chapel Catholic Community since her Family's arrival at Fort Rucker a year and a half ago. During that time, she restarted the youth ministry for the Catholic Community and helped with community service projects such as Angel Tree and Habitat for Humanity. She is also a substitute teacher and member of the Military Council of Catholic Women, Ladies Auxiliary, Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Community's Parish Council and the Fort Rucker Spouses Club.

Lynch said volunteering helps her stay in touch with her community and gives her fun things to do outside the home.

"I am truly blessed being able to volunteer with all the wonderful folks here at Fort Rucker," she said.

Meghan Malone: Youth Volunteer of the Year

Malone is currently a student at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, but volunteered with the Main Post Chapel, Our Lady of Loretto Parish, for several years before moving. She served as a member of the Catholic Youth Group and an altar server. She assisted in training new altar servers, cleaning up after Mass and accompanying the Catholic Parish Coordinator on hospital visits.

"I was so surprised," Malone said of being recognized as a Volunteer of the Year. "Out of all the people considered for this recognition, I could not believe that I was chosen to be one of them."

2nd Lt. Peter Nickoloff: Active Duty Volunteer of the Year

Nickoloff is active in the Catholic Community at the Main Post Chapel. He is the coordinator for the Catholic Adult Ministry and a member of the Catholic Parish Council. Nickoloff also gives his time volunteering with the Youth Ministry at Our Lady of Loretto Parish and serving as a lector at the Catholic Mass -- all while in flight school.

Volunteering is a "way to develop relationships within your community. Besides the obvious benefits of being able to make a difference in the lives of some of those around you, and to share time and talents, an added benefit is a richness that it adds to life to know that you are supporting important causes outside of your needs and desires," Nickoloff said.

"I'm sure there are plenty of Soldiers making huge contributions that are equally, if not more, deserving," he added.

Michael, Martha, Christopher and Victoria Boyle: Volunteer Family of the Year

Each member of the Boyle Family has their own volunteer projects, but together they are responsible for the Family Ministry for the Catholic Parish. Michael and Martha volunteer with the Pre-Cana Program at Our Lady of Loretto Parish and Martha serves as the Catholic librarian at the Spiritual Life Center. Victoria and Christopher are altar servers and participate in service projects with the youth ministry.

Michael said the Family had volunteered at the church and school when they were previously stationed at Fort Rucker, but when they returned in 2008, they were asked to take on larger projects.

"Sometimes all it takes it being asked to realize that your time and talents are needed," he said, adding that there are many other Families who also volunteer on post.

Albert and Mary Apel: Lifetime Achievement

The Apels are active in the Main Post Chapel Protestant service and have been active volunteers with the post chapel since 1975. Albert is the head usher for one of the services, serves in Vacation Bible School, manages the carpentry shop and volunteers for various other seasonal activities. Mary is the historian for the Protestant Women of the Chapel and the parish advisory council secretary. She has been the assistant director of the post-wide Vacation Bible School Program since at least 1996 and is currently the assistant director of the weekly Protestant Sunday School program.

Together, the Apels are the driving force behind the annual Living Last Supper performance. The two coordinate locations, staging, costumes, technical support and more.

During the ceremony, representatives from 17 different organizations also accepted packets of certificates to be given to the people in those organizations who had given at least 50 hours of time in 2011, according to Hayes and the Army One Source Volunteer Management Information System.

"For most of these volunteers, this is not just a 'one time' thing," Hayes said. "It is a way of life."