Volunteers stroll 'Red Carpet' at annual ceremony
By Lisa R. Rhodes | Staff writer | 05/08/08
Cameras flashed as Fort Meade's volunteers walked down a red carpet at the "Fort Meade Walk of Fame" and had their picture taken by the "paparazzi."
The volunteers were the celebrities of the evening during the installation's annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony on April 24 at Club Meade.
"What are all these cameras here for?" asked volunteer Joleen Mitchell after she walked the carpet. "It was really fun."
Photography students from the Defense Information School took on the role of paparazzi. In addition, all of the installation's volunteers of the year and the volunteer organization of the year were presented their own star on the red carpet.
The idea for the Hollywood ambience was initiated by Rushaunda Farmer, Army Community Service Volunteer Corps coordinator and event organizer.
"I just thought it really suited our volunteers and the contributions that they make here," she said.
More than 350 people including Installation Commander Col. Kenneth O. McCreedy and his wife, LeAnn, attended the event. They came to honor those members of the Fort Meade community who donated their time during the past year to serve the installation and the people who live and work here.
"Volunteers are important because of what they are able to accomplish," McCreedy said after the event, noting that the spirit of volunteerism on the installation has created a tight-knit community.
Named "Lifetime Volunteer of the Year," Louise Outlaw, 91, was recognized for her dedication and service. For more than 45 years, Outlaw has volunteered for various Fort Meade organizations.
"I think it's quite an honor," said Outlaw, widow of deceased service member LeRoy Outlaw. "(Volunteering is) just a way of life ... to help those who need help."
The Outlaws first arrived at Fort Meade in 1961 and lived on post for three years. In 1962, Louise Outlaw began volunteering at the Main Post Chapel.
After LeRoy Outlaw served in Vietnam and Honolulu, the couple moved to Severn with their three children. Louise Outlaw, who planned on a career in social work before becoming a homemaker, became active in the Officers' Wives' Club, the Retired Officers' Wives' Club, the Post Garden Club and the Protestant Women of the Chapel. She also has volunteered for the USO, the American Red Cross and the Hospice of the Chesapeake.
"She is a consummate volunteer," said Mary McManus, ROWC publicity chairperson, who nominated Outlaw for the award.
McManus said Outlaw has volunteered for so many Fort Meade organizations that "there is no one else who matched her."
This year, ACS recognized volunteers in seven categories for their service, while five organizations were nominated for the organizational award. The six recipients of the Volunteer of the Year award were nominated by a service organization, but -- much like Oscar night -- they did not know they were winners until their name was called at the ceremony.
All the volunteers received a star trophy engraved with the Army Volunteer Corps seal.
There are more than 1,200 volunteers registered with ACS. "They contribute to the quality of life at Fort Meade," Farmer said.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the installation, doing everything from tutoring children in the schools and sending care packages to deployed Soldiers to preparing taxes and ushering at religious services.
Mitchell, a military spouse, was recognized as the Commander's Choice Volunteer of the Year. Of the 16 nominees for that award, Mitchell was selected by McCreedy. "I was very surprised and very honored," said Mitchell, who volunteers for the Fort Meade USO and the Enlisted Spouses Club.
Mitchell also helps to organize parties and game nights for the USO, in addition to sending care packages to troops. For the ESC, she contributes to the monthly bake sale at the Thrift Shop and helps organize car wash fundraisers.
Mitchell said she enjoys volunteering because it gives her an opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people, while offering a helping hand.
Chief Warrant Officer Tony Beaver, of Naval Information Operations Command Maryland, was selected as the Active Duty-DoD Civilian Volunteer of the Year for his volunteer service at the woodshop at the Arts & Crafts Center. "It feels really good to be acknowledged," he said.
A woodshop volunteer for four years, Beaver donates his time two evenings a week to teach carpentry classes and maintain the shop's equipment.
"He's highly dependable and the quality of his workmanship is superb," said Richard Laderoute, business manager of the Arts & Crafts Center, who has nominated Beaver before.
Other award winners were Althea Freeman and Nan Lawless, each recognized as a Family Member Volunteer of the Year; Gerald Rose, Retiree Volunteer of the Year; and the 70th Operations Group, Volunteer Organization of the Year.
A special award was presented to the 53rd Signal Battalion Family Readiness Group for its volunteer assistance to Soldiers and their families.
Gabrielle Fillippi, 17, was selected as the Youth Volunteer of the Year for her service to Meade Middle School and the installation's Pet Care Center.
Fillippi, a junior in the International Baccalaureate Program at Old Mill High School in Millersville, tutors students at Meade Middle School once a week. "It's really good to see students getting involved in their education," said Fillippi, a graduate of Meade Middle School. "I really wanted to stay connected to the school."
Fillippi also helps care for the animals at the Pet Care Center, where she feeds cats and dogs, cleans kennels and takes dogs out for a walk.
"I really didn't expect it," said Fillippi, who once wanted to become a veterinarian, but now intends to study business and math in college. "I never thought I was doing anything that anyone else couldn't do."
Vanessa Peters, acting director at the Pet Care Center, praised Fillippi for her "great attitude" and "excellent work ethic." Peters called Fillippi an "incredible asset" to the center, where she has been volunteering for a least once a week since last summer.
"I don't really think she truly sees the value that she is," Peters said. "She doesn't seek out for the pat on the back."