Volunteers praised for saving community millions

On May 12, 2010, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart held its annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony for a guest list of more than 2,000 volunteers, on Panzer Kaserne.

In 2010, volunteers donated 183,325 hours to events and services beyond the scope of what the garrison would normally provide, enhancing the quality of life for community members on every USAG Stuttgart installation.

During the ceremony, Col. Carl D. Bird, USAG Stuttgart commander, and Jewel Csiszar, garrison Army Community Services director, unveiled a ceremonial check written for $3,822,326.25 — the amount volunteers saved the garrison last year — as the crowd cheered and clapped.

The ceremony is an opportunity for the garrison, the combatant commands and other tenant units to come together and recognize their volunteers, said Laura Jean Davis, ACS volunteer coordinator.

Volunteer awards were presented by Bird and Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony M. Bryant, garrison command sergeant major.

Awards included 100 Presidential Service Awards for 500 or more volunteer hours;  five Presidential Call to Service Awards for 4,000 hours or more; 42 Volunteer of Excellence Awards, and seven Volunteer of the Year Awards.

Volunteers tracked their hours throughout the year using the online Volunteer Management Information System, or VMIS. While many awards were given this year, there would be even more if all volunteers tracked their hours, Davis added.
USAG Stuttgart Religious Support Office administrator April Adkins received the Presidential Service Award for her volunteer work in planning religious special events, such as revivals, for the garrison.

However, her real reward was helping others.
“I really don’t want the recognition,” she said. “To see people smile … that’s a big deal.”

Another volunteer, Army Master Sgt. Rodolfo Fuentes, also makes it a priority to give back to the community. In fact, he has a formula that helps him gauge how much time he commits to organizations in the garrison.

“There are 365 days a year,” said Fuentes, who works as the operations division senior enlisted advisor for Defense Information Systems Agency Europe. “Subtract 80 days for vacation and that leaves you with 285 days to give back [by] helping someone. It’s a goal I can achieve.”

Each year, he sets a goal of volunteering 400 hours and has been volunteering for more than 10 years. For his commitment to the community, Fuentes received the 2010 Military Volunteer of the Year Award.

The donated work by Fuentes, Adkins and the other 2,000 volunteers in the community enhances the quality of life in U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, Bird said at the ceremony.

“I’d like to thank each and every volunteer for giving us a chance to celebrate their great accomplishments,” he said. “All of you here have much to be proud of. You share a single drive to serve and improve the community.

“Your hard work and dedication goes a long way in making USAG Stuttgart a great place to live.”