Humble beginnings evoke a giving spirit for
Fort Stewart and Hunter Front Line
By: Kaytrina Curtis, Public Affairs Specialist 07/17/2008
From humble beginnings to helpful bliss, Family member, New Gannem community mayor and avid volunteer, Marcia Steele proves that you don't have to give big to give back. Steele's grandparents, whose first mode of transportation was a horse and buggy introduced her to the volunteer effort.
"A lady lived down the street and she had five children," said Steele, a native of Minter Ala. "All of the children were mentally challenged and she was a single parent."
Steele recalls working with her grandmother to clean the woman's house. Together, they provided food and clothing, and even helped the children with homework among other issues.
Beyond childhood, Steele has continued her efforts. While stationed in Germany, she and her husband, a Soldier assigned to the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion at Hunter, developed the custom of inviting single Soldiers or inconvenienced Families to their home during the holiday season. Steele also became a babysitter and hairdresser.
"Some of the high-school seniors who were going to prom didn't have access to a hairdresser. I would go and set up in the beauty shop and do the girls' hair for the prom free of charge," she said.
Even debilitating disease has not stopped Steele. In fact, it is an added incentive for her to carry on with her worthy work.
"In 1995, I went in the hospital for a routine surgical procedure and ended up having a pulmonary embolism. I was diagnosed with degenerative disk disease and also chronic asthma," Steele said. "After being in a coma on a respirator for 15 days, I had a new sense of being. I felt like God gave me my life back so I can always help someone else's life be better."
She is living up to her mission every day, volunteering wherever there is a need, be it at Tuttle Army Health Clinic in the Patient Family Care Clinic, in her Family Readiness Group, serving as vice president of the Hunter Spouses Club or simply helping military spouses and their children cope with the struggles of daily life. She has acknowledged the influence that small gifts can have on a deployed Soldier's spirit.
"Every two months I mailed over $200 worth of baked goods to troops in Iraq," said Steele.
"They were homemade squares, brownies, and pound cakes that I made and individually wrapped."
Although she has retired from her secular job, Steele still leads a very busy life. She generally gets up and out on a daily basis, volunteering not only on Hunter Army Airfield, but also through her church with a program called Seniors in Action.
"I am their driver," she said. "They stay on the move; we organize day trips and take them on our church bus."
She sings with the choir and contributed to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Steele also volunteers with the Special Olympics. She said that is always willing, ready, and able to aid anybody.
Steele has personally recruited her husband for the volunteer effort. Smiling, she discusses her husband's first opinions of her.
"He thought I was crazy," Steele said. "When we were stationed in Fort Rucker, I would take the food, cook it, and then go feed people. He'd ask, 'What happened to our food? What are we supposed to eat for dinner?' But I told him that he is never lacking. He's kind of joined the party and he's starting to give too."
Her endeavors are helpful, but Steele has not done this alone. Steele said, "I've made lifelong friends through volunteering."
Other spouses took her under their wings when she arrived at Hunter from Germany. At the time, she didn't know anyone in Savannah.
"You could call them, talk to them about anything," she said. 'Friendship is so important."
Even now she receives support from the garrison staff, who helps her work through the military community to get local events off the ground and to let Families know someone is there for them.
"I'd like to thank them (Lt. Col. Dan Whitney and Command Sgt. Maj. David Sampleton) because this is the first time we have been on a post where we work hand in hand with the garrison," Steele said. "It lets the community know that they are accessible and are here for us."
Steele went on to say it's that kind of support, which motivates her to continue her quest.
Steele said she does not volunteer for the accolades. The only thing that she asks back from the community is for more volunteers.
"It does not matter how many hours you can put in; it takes commitment," Steele said, adding that she appreciates any help other volunteers can give to worthy causes, no matter how much or how little.
"I just believe everyone has something to give," she said.