'Our hearts have Seoul': Area II volunteers praised

by Sarenna Lawson
U.S. Army

YONGSAN -- Every year volunteers in Area II are recognized for their outstanding service in a Volunteer of the Year Ceremony. This year, the "heart" of the community was represented through the theme, "Our Hearts Have Seoul." With more than 2,100 registered volunteers and over 155,000 hours of volunteer time accumulated, the "heart" of the volunteers is beating strong.

Col. Maria Eoff provided opening statements for those in attendance. "To all of our nominees…all of you are tremendously valuable to our community. Many of our programs rely on the commitment and dedication of volunteers," said Eoff. "Volunteers are the backbone of our community and are vital to our success. The time and talents that you share…directly contributes to the improvement of our community and quality of life."

The ceremony continued with remarks from Major General Brian McKiernan, Eighth Army Deputy Commanding General for Operations. McKiernan recognized the service members, retirees, family members, civilians and Korean nationals who gave their time to the Area II community. "Your hard work and dedication represent the highest quality of our Volunteer Corps. Your efforts promote positive change by helping staff our community events and activities. By partnering with our service members, civilians and families you ensure our garrison operates efficiently." McKiernan recognized the competitiveness of the award ceremony; with 75 nominations received only 14 individuals were selected across seven categories.

To be nominated for volunteer of the year, you must be a part of the volunteer program. Anyone who is participating in this program can be nominated, including "local nationals who volunteer and folks whose families are in the embassy…civilian to solider, no matter what background," said Frank Jackson, ACS employee readiness program manager. The volunteer of the year program has been happening since the early 1990s and continues on today. In order to determine the winners, a board is created to evaluate the nomination packages. This year, the unpaid volunteers of Area II "contributed $3,500,000 worth of manpower and time contributed," said Jackson. Volunteers are very important to the Yongsan community, "they can assist within their limits of their knowledge, experience, education and credentials."

The "Our Hearts Have Seoul" event was organized, designed and set-up by volunteer coordinator, Zeny Bates. With the help of many volunteers, Bates helped recognize the dedicated volunteers of USAG-Yongsan. ACS volunteer program manager, Kathy Harrison-Bryant, was just one of the many volunteers who helped Bates. Harrison-Bryant has been volunteering for 25 years and is involved in many programs on post, "the ability to give back to the military family and community by serving," is just one of the reason Harrison-Bryant volunteers.

The volunteers of Area II have given their time, dedication and "heart" to their community.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities in the USAG-Yongsan community, contact Zeny Bates at zenaida.b.bate.civ@mail.mil.

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