Marie Miles has been a volunteer all of her adult life.
Whether working with other women to build international relationships abroad or leading a Christian singles ministry, she has always devoted time to serving others.
So when Miles retires Dec. 30 as Fort Meade’s Army Volunteer Corps Program manager after seven years in the position and 32 years as a Department of the Army civilian, she plans to continue contributing to the Fort Meade community — but in a nonprofessional capacity.
“I’m retiring, but I’ll be here — at the commissary, the Exchange — and somewhere doing volunteer work,” she said.
Army Community Service is hosting a retirement luncheon for Miles at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Club Meade.
Voncile Farmer, the former Survivor Outreach Services coordinator, took over as manager of the Army Volunteer Corps Program on Nov. 14.
Doris Tyler, director of ACS, said Miles and Farmer are “enjoying a rare opportunity to have program turnover, as it is typical to experience a six- to eight-month gap” before filling a vacancy.
Tyler said Miles will be missed and described her as a “caring, confident, committed professional, devoted to her family and larger community.”
As the Army Volunteer Corps Program manager, Miles has done “outstanding work” that has led to a 250 percent increase in registered volunteers and a savings of more then $35 million for the installation during her tenure, said Tyler.
Miles said her efforts in leading the garrison’s volunteer program has paid off.
“People are excited about volunteering,” she said.
A native of Georgia, Miles moved to Pennsylvania at an early age to complete her primary education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a minor in special education from Millerville State University Teacher’s College in Lancaster, Pa.
Since that time, Miles also has completed the requirements to become an ordained minister and — along with her husband, Danny Miles — a professional marriage counselor.
“I’ve always had a passion for working with youth,” she said. “It’s something I really enjoy and I am very happy that I have been able to incorporate youth programs into every position I’ve had in my career.”
By 1982, Miles was working as a special education teacher in Columbia, S.C., when she met her husband, a Soldier stationed at Fort Jackson, S.C.
The couple met while shopping at K-mart.
“I consider me his ‘blue light special,’ ” Miles joked.
Five years later, the Miles family, which grew to include daughter Aisha, and son Trier, moved to Rheinberg, Germany. Miles worked as coordinator for the Installation Volunteer Corps and Army Family Action Plan Program.
“Things were not computerized then,” Miles said in regard to registration of volunteers and tracking service hours. “We worked out of a 10-story building and maybe had about 200 volunteers.”
In 1990, the family moved to Belgium where Miles worked as a budget assistant in finance and later for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Budget Office.
During her spare time, she volunteered with the American Women’s Activity Germany and as a fashion model with other civilians and Soldiers in Amsterdam. During that time, she also was the director of a chapel youth ministry.
In 1996, Miles relocated with her family to Daegu, South Korea, where she was director of Family Child Care and the Child Development Center.
She also volunteered as a ski instructor and as a team leader for a religious group for military spouses. Miles also oversaw the multicultural youth ministry at Camp Walker Chapel in Daegu.
“Everything I am is because of the foundation of my religious beliefs as a Christian,” Miles said.
Three years later, the family moved to Mannheim, Germany, where Miles continued her work as an FCC and CDC director. She and her husband oversaw a singles ministry and she led a youth ministry.
From 2007 to 2009, Miles was the Family Programs coordinator in Kaiserslauten until her husband received orders for duty at Fort Meade.
She arrived at Fort Meade in 2009, and her husband retired from the Army Reserve. He then became the chief of ACS at Adelphi Laboratory Center.
Tripling in size
When Miles began her tenure at Fort Meade, there were about 846 registered volunteers. Today, there are 2,900.
Her first step in her new position was to survey the volunteer needs of the community.
“A lot of people didn’t know the program existed,” she said.
After the survey, Miles formed partnerships with organizations off post to provide viable volunteer opportunities for nontraditional volunteers.
Virtual volunteering became popular for those who had small children at home, but still wanted to sharpen employable skills and give back to the community. She also worked hard to tailor the program to specific groups such as retirees and veterans.
Retired Col. Edward C. Rothstein, who was the garrison commander at the time, also reached out to Miles and other garrison leaders to inquire about starting a program for Fort Meade youth.
Miles met with the leaders and proposed creating a youth volunteer program. After weighing the pros and cons, a program that later became the Teen Leadership Challenge was launched in 2012.
The challenge provides teens with required service learning hours for graduation and skills for the job market.
Today, the garrison’s volunteer program maintains a partnership with Sarah’s House, Hospice of the Chesapeake, Honor Flight of BWI and Wreaths Across America.
Miles also introduced the Presidential Volunteer Service Award to Fort Meade’s annual Volunteer Banquet to recognize volunteers who have earned more than 100 community-service hours. To date, more than 1,000 Fort Meade volunteers have received the award.
As for her retirement, Miles said she looks forward to spending time with her two grandchildren and traveling. Her husband will retire from his position at Adelphi in March after 43 years of Army, Reserve and civilian service.
The couple plans to move from their home in Bowie to Charlotte, N.C., in about a year.
To the many volunteers who have worked with Miles during the past seven years, she has prepared a farewell that she will share at her luncheon.
“Please know that I genuinely appreciate and value your commitment of time toward bettering our community,” Miles wrote. “ … To my friends around the world, I’ll see you later!”