The Fort Hood Garrison Religious Support Office recognized 520 volunteers at a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon Saturday at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel.
“Volunteering – serving others – I think, is so important,” said Chaplain (Colonel) Darren Chester, Chaplain of U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood. “When I think of our society in America, if it weren’t for the religious institutions in the communities, and the parallels of those that exist here at Fort Hood and the Army installations around the world, there would have much less service to others.”
Amanda Merena, President of the Protestant Women of the Chapel, was recognized as Volunteer of the Year by the Religious Support Office, with 378 hours of volunteer service logged.
“We host lots of outreach events, play dates at the park, popsicles at the park and more,” Merena said of her PWOC service.
Apart from PWOC, Merena has also supported the RSO as Outreach Officer and Ministry Team Leader.
The Family Volunteer of the Year award went to Richard and Rose Church, volunteers from the Roman Catholic community. Both served with Catholic religious education teachers, youth ministry teachers, and volunteered with Vacation Bible School.
The youngest of the volunteers were Jordan and Haelyn Hendrix, who were recognized as RSO and Young Facility Volunteer of the Year. Jordan, 6, and Haelyn, 4, learn the importance of giving back from an early age. The brother and sister, who are part of the Comanche Chapel Gospel Service, participated in the youth choir and the praise dance team, but Chester said the children’s influence extended far beyond beyond the walls of Fort Hood. They’ve donated over 500 hours of their time to Solidarity Day, Wreaths for Vets, Valentine’s Day for Vets, Don’t Mess with Texas Trash-off, and helped ring the bell for the Salvation Army at Christmas, among other events.
“I like helping people and showing care and responsibility,” Jordan said.
Jordan and Haelyn are the children of Sgt. Jordan Hendrix, 194th Division Sustainment Support Battalion in the Republic of South Korea and Hana Hendrix, who said that although children obviously don’t volunteer alone, they never complain and always have a smile for those they help .
“I’m so proud of them,” Hana said. “The things they learned from these different events, they internalized them and took them with them every day. They learn essential life and moral skills on how to be good citizens and shepherds of the Lord, and to serve God by serving others.
The garrison chaplain said the recipients do not volunteer for recognition, but receive a blessing as a result of their service.
“It’s kind of like jumping into a pool, you’re going to get wet, you can’t help it,” Chester said. “If you give, you are going to be blessed, just like if you jump into a swimming pool, you are going to get wet.”
Chester added that many don’t realize that 80% of all services are performed by about 20% of people, while 20% of services are performed by 80% of people. Those who are recognized represent only 20% of the people who do 80% of the service.
“Thank you,” he said, “for all the wonderful things you’ve done this year.”