Civilian workers and volunteers are as important to a military installation as the soldiers they serve.
On Jan. 31, Fort Gordon honored two of them, along with four enlisted personnel, for their service at an awards ceremony.
Angela Ward dedicated almost all of her free time to the Fort Gordon last year.
Her service earned her recognition as Fort Gordon’s Volunteer of the Year.
The largest chunk of volunteerism Ward gave included almost 2,000 hours working as a paralegal for the JAG office.
That also earned her a full- time paying job; she was hired in November.
“My volunteer work gave me job experience,” she said.
She is working toward a bachelor’s degree in legal service at night, but that’s not all that keeps this Army wife and mother of three busy.
She also serves as a Girl Scout leader two Thursdays a month, and works as a receptionist for the Fort Gordon Tax Center.
Ward said she volunteers because things need to be done and she is able to do them.
“Somebody has to do it. If I go somewhere and I see the need, if I can make a difference, I try to make a difference,” she said. “Just like the (Family Readiness Group) at 7th Sig(nal Command). They didn’t have one when I got there, so I picked it up.”
Not only does she juggle school, a full-time job and volunteer work, but on the side she runs a Scentsy business, a cake-decorating business and she makes hair bows.
“It’s military life, and it’s what we do,” she said.
Jeanne Stewart is just as active in volunteer service, in addition to her full-time job as the installation chaplain’s secretary.
Stewart was awarded the Civilian of the Year for her professionalism.
She has worked with the chaplain’s office for 10 years, but spent 32 years in federal service overall.
“After my husband retired from the Air Force, we moved to Hephzibah, Ga. I was a substitute teacher for a while, then was lucky enough to be picked up by Fort Gordon,” she said.
Stewart worked in other areas, including 12 years in drug and alcohol control before landing her current position.
“I really enjoy my job, and I really enjoy helping these soldiers,” she said.
“I call these soldiers my awesome soldiers, because every soldier here is awesome. Every single one of them.”
When she’s not working, Stewart volunteers as a mentor for the Youth Challenge Academy.
The program teaches life skills to at-risk youth.
“Youth Challenge was a challenge for me, to have a youth that I had to mentor,” she said. “She did right good, too. She got the scholarship. She got the GED. I was so proud of her at graduation I wanted to adopt her.”
Stewart also volunteers at the Christmas House and with the Federally Employed Women.
Her reason for volunteering is simple.
“Volunteers are awesome as well. They work for free, as you know.”