By Mac Hightower,
Stuttgart Citizen volunteer
This year, due to coronavirus restrictions, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart honored the volunteers who help improve our community through a livestream broadcast of their annual ceremony.
The ceremony’s virtual guests of honor had been nominated by their volunteer organizations for outstanding contributions made in 2019. Winners were announced across six categories by a panel of judges. The event was narrated by Col. Jason Condrey, commander of USAG Stuttgart, and Charlene Schuler, Army Community Service volunteer coordinator
“Volunteers are the backbone of many programs and services whether they donate 1 hour or 2000 hours,” Schuler said. “As a community, we owe our volunteers a debt of gratitude that we can never repay.”
In 2019, the garrison saw 643 registered volunteers who collectively logged 65,272 hours, Schuler said. Volunteers work at everything from the Stuttgart Law Center and the American Red Cross, to the American Forces Network radio station and the Stuttgart Theatre Center. The number converted to roughly $1,659,867 worth of labor that these selfless individuals have saved the garrison, she said.
Volunteer of the Year- Youth
Bettina Wagner was announced winner of the youth category for her work with the American Red Cross, Stuttgart Station. Highlights of her contributions include, collecting over 100 units of blood for military soldiers, helping to earn $400 in donations as a team lead during holiday season gift wrapping, participating in Red Cross sponsored events at Stuttgart Elementary School, and recruiting over 40 new student volunteers. Wagner said, “I enjoy volunteering at the Red Cross because I know that the projects that I am part of are guaranteed to benefit someone, whether it be near or afar.”
Volunteer of the Year— Spouse
Patricia Chang was the winner of the spouse category. Since volunteering as a legal assistant at Stuttgart Law Center, the center has seen a 600% increase in immigration clients. Chang’s services are estimated to have saved USAG Stuttgart community members over $300,000 in legal fees and expenses. She does so with impeccable customer service as evidenced by the 75 positive ICE comments she received in 2019. Chang mentions that she too is an immigrant and how “my happiest moment is when a family is brought back together with my legal assistance.”
Volunteer of the Year— Civilian
Ayonna Clark received the Volunteer Award in the civilian category for her work with the USO. Clark showcased a remarkable range of skills from her warm greeting at the front desk to researching and planning activities for children who attend USO events. Her organization praises her for her “willingness to jump in and help take on responsibility.” Clark explained, “I had the privilege of enjoying different community events growing up in my hometown; and want to help give back the same opportunities to people in each community that I’m a part of.”
Volunteer of the Year— Military
Pfc. Imani Robinson won the award in the military category for her leadership, professionalism, and role as cheerleading coach for a group of girls. In her nomination LT Huerth writes, “she holds herself to the Army values which translates into her becoming the best volunteer and role model and organization could ask for.” Robinson summarizes her role as a volunteer, coach and mentor as, “I do things I’m passionate about without the thought of getting acknowledged, because I love to see the growth in others.”
Volunteer of the Year— Senior
Ursula Werner is winner of the outstanding senior citizens section. Werner has served the USA Girl Scouts Overseas in Stuttgart for 20 years, and has been a member of the Overseas Committee Management team since 2008. She pioneered a Japanese cultural immersion opportunity for Cadette and Senior love Girl Scouts where she provided mentoring to help the Girl Scouts develop and execute a trip to Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan. Werner responded to the award stating, “why should I NOT volunteer? When I am passionate about something, I like to share my passion and knowledge with others and hope to inspire them.”
Volunteer of the Year—Team
The Red Cross Volunteer Training Services team, consisting of Steve Dunlap, Debra Papalia, Zoe Doyle-Kalinowki, Carrie Smith, Jenny Seal, Lynn Goad, Cora Monaghan, Curtis Dyer, Sue Cowden, Heather Ferebee, Tisha Weech, Justine Warrior, and Karem Alvarez-Almodovar, won the award in the team category. As a team, they volunteered 1,668 hours in 2019. The team of 13 provided instructions on life-saving skills and mental preparedness, educating nearly 900 members of the USAG Stuttgart community.