Fort Meade Sound Off
Banquet applauds chapel volunteers
By Jordan Attebury, Contributing Writer
Nearly 300 people gathered for dinner, music, prayer and awards at a Chapel Volunteer Appreciation Banquet held Oct. 16 at Club Meade.
The event was presided over by Installation Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael C. Punke.
Some of the contributions of Chapel volunteers over the past year have included raising $40,000 to support the troops and increasing activities of spiritual growth by more than a third across the installation, said Punke.
In addition, Chapel volunteers continued their outreach programs in Odenton, the prison in Jessup and other local areas. Volunteer services also included helping with youth groups, the children's church, and vacation Bible school.
"It does the heart good to see you here tonight," Punke told the group. He then introduced Installation Commander Col. Daniel L. Thomas, who was "truly humbled" to speak to the volunteers. "I do not believe any words spoken can adequately characterize the huge contribution volunteers make to our community," Thomas said. To be a community of excellence, he added, there needs to be three pillars in place: a strong garrison, active tenant organizations and units, and a community of committed volunteers. "Volunteers are the critical lifeblood [of] this community," he said.
In addition to recognizing the volunteers, Punke also recognized the members of his staff, including his "right hand, left arm" man, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge Sgt. First Class Michael Cargle.
Punke praised his staff and then Cargle and spoke about Matthew 25:31-46, in which Jesus separates the good from the bad, the way a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Each volunteer who attended the banquet was given a day planner as a thank-you gift.
Other speakers for the evening included Chaplain (Maj.) William Killough, who gave the invocation, and Chaplain (Maj.) Joseph F. Vieira, III, who gave the closing benediction.
The evening's entertainment was provided by the "Just Friends" band, the Catholic Youth Choir and Grace Smith.