Volunteers Praised at Appreciation Luncheon
Maj. Gen. Mitchell Stevenson, Marianne Blythe, Josephine Brady and Col. Gwen Bingham share a laugh after Army Community Service presented a check of $2,073,364 to the general during a Volunteer Apreciation Awards Luncheon held April 26 at the Regimental Club. The amount is the value of the thousands of hours volunteer contribute to operations at Fort Lee.

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It’s an understatement to say that volunteers have had a measurable impact on the Fort Lee community.

Last year they contributed more than $2,073,364 in volunteer hours toward installation services and operations.

That impact was recognized April 26, as hundreds of post volunteers were honored during the Volunteer Appreciation Awards Luncheon held at the Regimental Club.

The annual event, held in conjunction with National Volunteer Week and themed “Volunteers: Priceless Treasures,” was attended by more than 270 people to include Maj. Gen. Mitchell H. Stevenson, Combined Arms Support Command commanding general and Col. Gwen Bingham, garrison commander. The guest speaker, Viola Baskerville, secretary of administration to Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, talked about the positive impact volunteerism has had on communities. She added that volunteer service should never be taken for granted.

“Service to others is not an easy task,” she said. “It requires sacrifice and making the choice between living solely for yourself or sharing a portion of your lives with others.”

In 2006, more than 1,200 post volunteers representing 42 post agencies, activities and programs shared their lives with others. They contributed 110,344 hours to well-known post service operations like the Red Cross, Army Community Service, Boy and Girl scouts as well as organizations such as the Military Entrance Processing Station and the Fort Lee Playhouse.

In his speech to the audience, Stevenson said the volunteers’ deep and wide ranging effect on post operations, programs and activities deserve gratitude and praise.

“Winston Churchill was quoted as saying, ‘We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give,’” he said. “I’m honored to be in the presence of individuals who are living proof of his quote, who share their time and talents for the benefits of others and truly are making a difference in the Fort Lee community.”

There are numerous installation activities and programs that simply could not run without the help of volunteers. One such activity, the Boy Scouts, listed 38 volunteers who contributed more than 6,980 hours.

“We have about 38 boys who participate and each and every one of our volunteers help make the program available to our community. Without them, we could do nothing,” said volunteer Chief Warrant 4 Robert Casteel.

The same is true for the Lee Playhouse. Its 316 volunteers contributed more than 36,000 hours to theatrical productions. Without the volunteers, it would be impossible to stage plays at a reasonable cost, said Kym Mincks, theater company board.

“It’s an affordable outlet for the community, especially for the retirees in the area and family members,” she said.

The Volunteer Appreciation Awards Luncheon collectively recognized all the various organizations that operate with the help of volunteers. Individual volunteers are honored and recognized through certificates and other programs.