By CATRINA FRANCIS
Gold Standard Senior Staff Writer
Indian political and spiritual leader Mohandas Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
On April 25, Fort Knox recognized those who are the epitome of service to others on the installation through their volunteerism during the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Recognition Ceremony.
This year’s theme, “Volunteers Strengthening a Nation,” embodies those who have something to offer the community and country that is invaluable—themselves.
“By working together volunteers strengthen a nation; we all know here at Fort Knox is where strength starts,” said Col. Erik Peterson, the deputy commanding officer of Cadet Command and Fort Knox, “home to HRC (Human Resources Command), Cadet Command, United States Army Recruiting Command, career management of every Soldier, (and) home to FORSCOM (Forces Command) units 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and 3rd (Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division).
“Home to a diverse group of organizations vital to our Soldiers and Army civilians (who) cannot work and accomplish what they do without you. Your efforts are vital to our nation’s defense.”
Peterson pointed out that the 2,828 registered Fort Knox volunteers in the Army’s Volunteer Management Information System worked 59,143 hours from March 2012 to March 2013, which saved Fort Knox $1,288,726. Peterson recognized them as the unpaid, uncompensated and under recognized workforce who volunteered while holding a job, had Family obligations and helped others become self-sufficient.
“(You) rolled up your sleeves and helped others when you could have easily opted out,” explained Peterson.
During the ceremony, 54 nominees from six categories vied for the honor of being named Volunteer of the Year. The nominees received the President’s Volunteer Service Award complete package, which included a personalized certificate, lapel pin in bronze, silver or gold depending on volunteer hours logged in VMIS and a congratulatory letter signed by President Barack Obama.
Rashaan Allen was the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year recipient in the youth category. Isadora Ewing, the program’s narrator, said. Allen is a young example and leader by far.
Allen was selected for his eagerness to serve at Devers Middle School and Teen Center where he displayed great confidence, and a positive voice a willingness to assist in any possible way.
Allen is a dedicated co-president of the youth council, teen delegate for the Army Family Action Plan conference, Atlantic Region Youth Leadership Forum junior advisor, the 2012 Fort Knox and Kentucky Boys and Girls Club of America Youth of the Year and delegate for Kentucky Boys State Leadership for American Legion, said Ewing.
Allen was also elected as the Fort Knox High School freshman president, and he is now the senior class president. She said he takes leadership and volunteerism to another level by mentoring other youth and teaching them the fundamentals of basketball; he renders volunteer services to the American Red Cross, Houston Bowling Center, Anderson Pool Feeding American of Heartland and various church functions.
“Rashaan’s morals, outgoing character, wisdom, understanding and positive leadership is a tribute to the promotion to the quality of life for his peers,” said Ewing.
Allen as well as the other winners received a Department of the Army certificate signed by the Fort Knox commanding general and the Commanding General Coin, an Army Volunteer Corps Program engraved Outstanding Volunteer of the Year crystal plaque and a $100 Master Card gift card.
“Rashaan, your volunteer contributions, dedication and commitments truly set the example and express these highly important words—a good man steps is ordered,” explained Ewing, “allow your steps to continue to be ordered.”
Master Sgt. Robert Kubash Jr. was named the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year recipient in the active duty military category.
Kubash was honored for his loyal support and true dedication as a mentor of today’s youth through the Child, Youth and School Services, Youth Sports Program. He is a committed flag, tackle football and baseball coach devoted to growth, improvement of youth, and dedicated to teaching fundamentals individually to all team players in order to reach their personal goals. His
extensive volunteer hours and untiring efforts to help improve the quality of play for youth have increased active involvement and supplied needed tools for the youth to become selfstarters. His winning attitude earned the respect and praise of staff, players and parents.
Kubash instills the six pillars of character (respect, fairness, trustworthiness, responsibility, citizenship and caring) which has been an effective team builder and obvious platform for growth for his players. His hard working determination, commitment to his coaching duties and the youth of the Fort Knox community ensures the teaching of “Character Counts” in all aspects of life.
“Champions keep playing until they get it right,” explained Ewing. “Master Sgt. Kubash, your volunteer dedication will enable the success of many great champions.”
The Outstanding Volunteer of the Year recipient in the Family member category Ewing said, was none other than an expert trainer, coach, mentor and outreach volunteer with an altruistic spirit that shines through personal giving – Theresa Donahoe.
Ewing said Donahoe rendered incredible dedication and tremendous support to the Army Community Service, Army Family Team Building and Army Family Action Plan programs. Her volunteer assistance as the volunteer coordinator in support of the Army Family Action Plan conference enabled flawless strategic planning, to include facility arrangements, analyzing equipment needs, timelines and recruitment of volunteers. She is a CARE Team trainer and Army Family Team Building instructor, advisor and advocate supplying proficient knowledge and specific instructions as a subject matter expertise in both fields. Through her extensive volunteer commitments she still finds the time to assist as the Parent Teacher Organization coordinator at Kingsolver Elementary School and the Fort Knox Spouses and Community Club Scholarship coordinator. Her insight, intelligence, ability to adapt to people and articulate thoughts and instructions enabled the selection by the Installation Management Command to teach courses at the Senior Spouse Leadership Seminar hosted at the Army War College in Carlisle, PA.
“It is a time to give and a time to receive; congratulations and thank you, Mrs. Donahoe, for giving to this community on a daily basis,” Ewing said.
The Outstanding Volunteer of the Year recipient in the retiree category is a mentor, outreach worker, active board member, instructor and man of the most-high king, Ewing said about Marcus Dixon.
Dixon is a volunteer activist who renders continual volunteer service to the Fort Knox community, Brother to Brother Academy, Beautiful Christians All Stars basketball team, Radcliff Residence and Business Association Elite Mentoring Program, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Big Brothers Big Sisters Program and the House of Manna. His outreach abilities and spiritual vision enabled the recent execution of an extremely successful Women Making a Difference conference that enlightened, encouraged and energized more than 260 women, men, boys and girls. As the founder and organizer of the Beautiful Christian All Stars Amateur Athletic Union basketball team, he has productively trained more than 45 youth ages 11-17, enabling 26 players to obtain college scholarships.
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up,” Ewing said. “Work is the master key that opens the door to all opportunities.”
The Outstanding Volunteer of the Year recipient in the civilian category, Ewing said, is a powerful representative, organizer, caseworker and willing to donate countless long hours of volunteer service which speaks these words so loud and clear—“There is an emergency—someone needs help—let’s open a shelter.”
Lacey Prouty was selected as the Fort Knox civilian Outstanding Volunteer of the Year. She worked as a disaster action team volunteer in support of the American Red Cross program. She was influential and well educated on opening, running and closing shelters in the time of need beyond human control. She is also a well-trained and well-versed instructor who provides various classes such as layperson adult, infant and child CPR, first aid and professional rescuer adult, infant and child. She is an insightful caseworker for the Louisville Chapter Region, training other caseworkers and performing pre-post deployment briefings regarding emergency messages and available services.
“Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself,” said Ewing. “Thank you for being the flame which gives off light and hope in the darkest hour of disaster.”
The Outstanding Volunteer of the Year recipient in the Family team category Ewing said is none other than the loving, caring, sharing, encouraging and helping hands of the compassionate Esquivel Family.
Ewing said the Family of four is a remarkable and encouraging example who sets the Family standards for all to emulate. The American Red Cross and Helping Hands program would not open two days per week in the evening without the Esquivel’s Family genuine dedication and agape love for Soldiers and Families in the time of need. They work together as a humble team assisting with the total program operation, ensuring facility upkeep, sorting clothing, restocking shelves, providing nonperishable food items and household items. The Family assisted in the recent move of the Helping Hands program, utilizing their own trailer to move any and all necessary items. Their organizational skills and working persistence enabled the new facility to re-open in one week.
“Sgt. 1st Class Esquivel and Mrs. Esquivel, you are indeed walking examples and great role models for your children teaching them at a young age to give and not count the cost,” explained Ewing about the Family.
Col. Bruce Jenkins, the Fort Knox garrison commander, said the 54 nominees are truly amazing volunteers.
“No way could we do it without volunteers,” said Jenkins. “(Your) job is not done. (There are) many super volunteers on Fort Knox. As dollars get smaller we cannot do without the great volunteers.”