Two volunteers received the highest award at the Iron Mike Award ceremony, Monday, at the Iron Mike Conference Center. Tiffany Clark and Sandra DeLaPena, both Fort Bragg Family members, each collected the Gold Star award for volunteer service, which is issued to volunteers who complete a minimum of 1,000 documented hours.
According to Alice Stephens, Installation Volunteer Services coordinator, Army Community Service, the Iron Mike Award for Volunteer Service was established in 2001 to recognize adult volunteers who go above and beyond their duties.
In 2010, a youth category was added. The award incorporates the Iron Mike lapel pin, earned by adults with a minimum of 300 hours and youth with 150 hours, the Iron Mike Bronze Star, awarded for 500 minimal adult hours of service and 250 youth hours and the Iron Mike Silver Star awarded for 750 adult-service hours and 400 youth-service hours.
But, volunteers earn the award based, not only on hours, but also on the total impact the volunteer has on an organization, Stephens explained.
DeLaPena volunteers across several platforms, including Bowley Elementary School PTA, Cub Scout Pack 82, sponsored by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Fayetteville and as reservation’s chair with the Association of Bragg Spouses.
DeLaPena said she likes volunteering at the school.
“I like being able to give back, being able to help the teachers and the staff members, so that they can be able to focus more on the students,” she said.
Her son, Lucas, 8, said he likes for his mother to volunteer.
“She does the best work ever,” he said.
Emily Fry received the Iron Mike Bronze Star for her volunteer service with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. One of her duties included helping with a hotdog and barbecue plate sale to raise money for the unit’s ball, said Fry.
Volunteering, she explained, helps her to establish camaraderie among spouses.
“It’s helped me to have a support system.”
Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commanding general of Fort Bragg and XVIII Airborne Corps, served as host of the ceremony. Volunteers saved the installation more than $16 million in 2016 with over 800,000 hours of service, Townsend said.
“I’ve reviewed all the nominations for your awards this year and I’m amazed at all the contributions,” he said.
The need for the volunteers will not diminish in the future, explained Townsend, because the desire for programs and services will not change.
“Thanks for your contributions,” he said, before shaking the hand of each recipient.