Selfless Service: Annual awards banquet celebrates volunteers

Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Brian S. Cullen escorts keynote speaker Marion Jordan, 102, at the Volunteer Awards Banquet held April 27 at Club Meade. (Photo by Phil Grout)

Over the past year, Fort Meade’s volunteer corps logged a staggering 230,000 hours, saving the installation millions of dollars.

The tireless efforts of these 30 volunteers — whose ages range from 14 to 102 — were recognized by a grateful community during Fort Meade’s annual Volunteer Awards Banquet held April 27 at Club Meade.

“Tonight we honor and celebrate the many contributions volunteers have made in support of our Team Meade community,” said Voncile Farmer, Army Volunteer Corps coordinator and Survivor Outreach Services program manager at Army Community Service.

Over 300 people attended the event. The theme was “Community Volunteers: Service for Life.”

Pia Morales and Debra Emerson served as emcees.

Both Morales and Emerson first worked at ACS as volunteers. Now, Morales serves as the manager for the Mobilization, Deployment and Stability Support Operations and Family Team Building programs. Emerson is a personal Financial Readiness counselor.

Marion Jordan was the keynote speaker. At age 102, the lifelong volunteer is still actively involved with the Protestant Women of the Chapel and the Retired Officers’ Wives’ Club. Jordan told the audience about a friend who, to this day, calls her to volunteer at events.

“Her husband said to me, ‘You have to sometimes say no,’ ” Jordan said. “But I didn’t say no and I’m still volunteering.

“They say I’m 102 years old. I don’t feel it, and that’s just a number.”

The event began with the posting of the colors by the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Master Sgt. Laura Lesche of the U.S. Army Field Band sang the national anthem. Garrison Chaplain (Col.) Warren E. Kirby Jr. led the invocation.

During dinner, musical entertainment was provided by Our Fathers Children — retired Master Sgt. Melvin Robinson on saxophone, Master Sgt. Jeffrey Jenkins on keyboard, Greg Norton on bass guitar and Eric Dowtin on drums.

The program also featured a video presentation by Bryan Spann of the Fort Meade Public Affairs Office highlighting volunteerism on post.

Honoring Volunteers

Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Brian S. Cullen presented award certificates to the individual and group volunteer winners.

In addition to the certificates, the winners were honored with bricks engraved with their names on the walkway of Constitution Park.

Marsha McKinney was named Civilian Volunteer of the Year.

“I’ve always volunteered, since I was young,” McKinney said after the ceremony. “I was in Girl Scouts. My parents instilled in me the importance of giving back to your community.”

McKinney has been the volunteer coordinator for the Post Thrift Shop for a year.

“I started volunteering at the Thrift Shop because of the Enlisted Spouses’ Club,” she said.

Master Sgt. Pranay Singh is named Active-Duty Volunteer of the Year at the Volunteer Awards Banquet. (Photo by Phil Grout)

The other winners were:

Master Sgt. Pranay Singh, Active-Duty Volunteer of the Year

Marvin Conner, Youth Volunteer of the Year

741st Military Intelligence Brigade, Unit Volunteer of the Year

Enlisted Spouses’ Club, Organization Volunteer of the Year

Kay and Roger Crawford, Family Volunteer of the Year

A number of people were recognized as lifetime volunteers — volunteers who have been reported by their organization to have completed 4,000 or more hours of volunteer service.

Marsha McKinney, volunteer coordinator for the Post Thrift Shop, is the Civilian Volunteer of the Year. (Photo by Phil Grout)

After the awards were presented, Rickard addressed the audience.

“Congratulations to all of our winners in every category,” he said as everyone applauded.

Rickard then asked everyone to join him in a moment of silence in honor of Gold Star Families.

He also recognized Voncile Farmer, Debra Emerson and Pia Morales for their efforts in organizing the two-hour banquet.

“We’ve got almost 3,000 volunteers in [our] system, which is huge,” Rickard said. “None of the things that we get to enjoy on our post happen without volunteers.

“Quite frankly, I can’t do it. I don’t have the money, I don’t have the people. The lifestyle that you enjoy, the things that our children enjoy, the things that our families enjoy are largely provided by volunteers.

“I am extremely grateful, and on behalf of everyone here who enjoys [their lifestyle] because of your selfless service, because of your character, because of the time that you spend to help us — thank you.”

Rickard estimated the grand total of money that volunteers saved the installation.

“Just so you know, if you add it all up, we talked about hours and numbers. It’s about 230,000 hours — documented hours —that our volunteers provide to this community,” he said. “The bottom line is, we save about $5.5 million.”

Speaking on behalf of the Fort Meade community, Rickard again thanked all the volunteers for giving their time, effort and energy to helping support the installation.

“There’s a lot of winners here tonight and some close runners-up, but ultimately it’s our community, our children, our families who benefit from the volunteer services,” he said. “So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything that you do.

“We cannot function without the volunteer support. We love you and we’re just grateful to have you.”

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