By Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs
FORT HOOD, Texas — “The word ‘volunteer’ is defined as person who performs a service willingly, without the promise of credit or reward. The second part of that definition is truly what’s important – no promise of credit or reward,” Col. Chad R. Foster, commander of U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood, told the crowd gathered here in the West Atrium of III Corps Headquarters. “The only thing you thought about was the need, and that really says it all. If that was as common as we’d like, I think the world would be a much better place. What you are doing is, indeed, making our world a much better place-making our community stronger and making Fort Hood stronger.”
The top three nominees for the III Corps and Fort Hood Volunteer of the Year were honored for their service and commitment, April 21.
Andrea Kim, a volunteer with Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, was named the Volunteer of the Year.
“I’m really nervous,” Kim said about the recognition. “I just helped plan the family fun events, like Easter, trunk-or-treat and breakfast with Santa.”
Kim is the spouse of 1st Sgt. Hyun Kim, first sergeant of Headquarters and Headquarters Troops, CRDAMC. She said she enjoys volunteering, but also feels like, as the spouse of a senior enlisted Soldier, it’s her responsibility to provide that positive example to military spouses.
“We try to make it (volunteering) as fun as possible,” Kim said. “Honestly, it feels good to fill a need, but mostly, it’s just showing up and being willing to help.”
The other two top finalists were Dr. Bill Abright, who volunteers with the Directorate of Public Works; and Maria Penya, who volunteers with Fort Hood’s Santa’s Workshop. Penya was unable to make it to the ceremony, but Abright said he volunteers because he enjoys working with Soldiers and working to save the environment.
Abright said he specializes in searching for zebra mussels, an invasive, fingernail-sized mollusk that is native to fresh waters. He also looks at wildlife and plant coverage to make sure things are growing properly. He also volunteers his time at the American Red Cross on Fort Hood.
“I do it for fun and just enjoy it,” Abright said. “I do all this stuff because it’s enjoyable.”
The other honorees include Kaley Hebrebrand, youth category; Caleb Myers, youth category; Haelyn Hendrix, youth category; Jordan Hendrix, youth category; the Church family, family category; Sgt. Dayna Fyffe, 1st Cavalry Division; Rebecca DeLoach, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cav. Div.; Connie Martin, 2nd Brigade Combat Team; Staff Sgt. Lory Edwards, 1st Cavalry Division Artillery; Maj. Timothy Peters, 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade; Jessica Gamez, 3rd Cavalry Regiment; 1st Lt. Serena Taylor, 48th Chemical Brigade; Melissa Myers, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade; 1st Lt. Michelle Wager, 89th Military Police Brigade; Spc. Joseph Smith, Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers; Staff Sgt. Ayeisha Garza, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West; Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey White, Noncommissioned Officer Academy; Casey Black, Soldier Recovery Unit; Lucky Baker, Army Community Service; Spc. Christopher Tejada, Child and Youth Services; Capt. Anna Wilson, Directorate of Public Works; Angel Eagan, Fort Hood Area Military Family Member Scholarship Fund; Yovanna Browne, Fort Hood Area Thrift Shop; Brooklyn Harris, Fort Hood Spouses’ Club; Amanda Merena, Garrison Chapel Service; Charner White, United Service Organizations; Angel Pavey, multiple agencies; Sgt. 1st Class Alfredo Garcia, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade; and Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Dyer, Fort Hood Spouses’ Club.
In all, 32 volunteers were nominated for volunteer of the year, but thousands of others help contribute to the total volunteer hours at Fort Hood. Diane Williams, program manager of the Fort Hood Volunteer Corps, said that, because of the constant movement of Soldiers and family members, the number of volunteers changes daily.
“Currently, we have a little over 5,800 active volunteers registered,” she added.
To show a representation of those hours, they presented a giant check to Lt. Gen. Pat White and Command Sgt. Maj. Cliff Burgoyne, III Corps and Fort Hood command team, totaling 43,188-1/2 volunteer hours for the year.
“This check represents the dollar value of the volunteer hours contributed during the year by all of our Fort Hood volunteers,” Williams said. “It’s for $1,232,599.79.”
Kim encouraged other people to share the joy of volunteering and said there are a lot of opportunities to volunteer at CRDAMC.
“It’s more fun than you think it would be and people are so appreciative,” Kim said. “It’s good to be around people who appreciate you.”