APG honors top volunteers of 2016

From left, Terrell Murdock, his wife Su-Ann Murdock a Public Health Center civilian, and their two children, Savanna, and Tyler, winners of the Family Volunteer of the Year award, pose with APG Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Randy S. Taylor, his spouse Lucas Taylor; CECOM Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew D. McCoy and his spouse Karen McCoy.| U.S. Army photo by Andrew Monath, MWR

APG personnel donated 4,500 hours to installation in 2016

In honor of those who donated their time to assist Aberdeen Proving Ground in the previous year, Army Community Service hosted its annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony at Top of the Bay, April 20.

Organizers said in 2016, APG volunteers recorded more than 4,500 volunteer hours, and saved the installation more than $106,000. Forty-seven individuals and six groups were nominated for awards.

APG Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Randy S. Taylor and Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew D. McCoy, with the U.S. Army Communication-Electronics Command, or CECOM, presented the certificates and awards.

Taylor praised the volunteers and thanked them for their service.

“Every one of our nominees here this evening is really a shining example of selfless service to our Army and to our great nation,” Taylor said. “You do things that are not asked of you. You go way above and beyond what’s expected of you, and you do so willingly without any recognition or awards. Every one of you has an important story to tell about what brought you here today. You come from different backgrounds, experiences, different motivations, but you all have one shared commonality and that’s the willingness to give your time and your love and support of others.”

This year marked the first presentation of the Triple Star Award which recognizes individuals with more than 1,000 hours of community service in one year. The family of Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Conway of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, including Conway, his wife Melinda Conway and their son, Jordan Conway all earned the award.

The APG Volunteers of the Year are Sgt. 1st Class David Preciado, Military; Carl Woods, Civilian; Caroline Merkel,]Retiree; Henri Rosser, Youth; Michele Lenig, Family Member; and the Murdock Family, Family.

Melinda Conway also was awarded the Gold Award and the Lt. Col. Emma Marie Baird Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. The Secretary of the Army award memorializes the late founder of ACS. (Read more about Conway’s award on www.apgnews.com.) In addition, civilian volunteer Karen Goodpasture was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is bestowed on individuals with a significant lifelong volunteer history that demonstrates conspicuous, longstanding contributions to one or more organizations.

Military Volunteer of the Year

Sgt. 1st Class David Preciado serves as volunteer coordinator for the Aberdeen/Edgewood Area Chapter of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club; he has participated in the Read Across America event at Roye Williams Elementary School; served on color guard teams for local events; assisted with the 2016 Month of the Military Child Color Run and played bingo and shared stories with veterans at the Perry Point VA Medical Center in Perryville, Maryland.

He has also used his personal vehicle to pick up and transport parts needed to construct bicycles for 10 special needs children as a part of the Exceptional Family Member Program. He also coaches special needs children, and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.

“My family and I have always enjoyed volunteering and helping others,” Preciado said. “Giving back is important to me because it falls under the very values in which I have been raised in the military, most importantly selfless service. The joy and appreciation that people show for your efforts as a volunteer is enough to keep me helping others for a lifetime.”

Civilian Volunteer of the Year

Carl Woods is a Maintenance Management Analyst with CECOM. He volunteers with two organizations, Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, Maryland and Moveable Feast in Baltimore, in addition to the work he does within his community.

At Mountain Christian Church, Woods is maintains gymnasium equipment and serves as a parking lot attendant.

At Moveable Feast, which provides meals, weekly groceries and nutritional counseling to home-bound AIDS and cancer patients, Woods prepares approximately 700 hot meals each year. He also teaches customers basic computer skills and works as a handyman within their homes.

Woods also hunts, fishes, and crabs to provide meat for those less fortunate and he grows, harvests and donates fruit and vegetables as well. Woods said he feels that all people, regardless of income, should have access to healthier food options.

“There are many people in our communities that depend on everyone’s support at one time or another. I have been very blessed throughout my lifetime. I just want to give it back and be a productive member of society,” he said

Retiree Volunteer of the Year

Caroline Merkel is the Catechist/ Sacrament Teacher and Adult Faith Formation lead for the APG chapel community, and has volunteered with the organization for the past 12 years.

Merkel volunteers eight to 10 hours of her time each week to develop lessons for the Family Faith Formation classes that meet weekly on post and also provides support to the Reconciliation, First Eucharist and Confirmation programs.

She is actively involved with the parish council where she has established a Sunday greeter and fellowship program and is an active participant in Catholic Women of the Chapel.

In addition, Merkel volunteers her time with Sharing Table at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Edgewood; Catholic Charities Assisted Living Facility in Aberdeen; Harford Family House; Catholic Relief Services; Anna’s House; the Sexual Assault/Spouse Abuse Resource Center, or SARC; Alpha’s Glory St. Vincent De Paul of Baltimore and Unbound.

“I volunteer because I like to mentor and help others— to share my expertise with them— and to help them to become better in whatever they’re doing and to hopefully become a better person, Merkel said. “I do it also in service to our military and our military families because it’s a privilege.”

Youth Volunteer of the Year

Henri Rosser, a student at the John Carroll School is a Canteen Youth volunteer with the Perry Point VA Medical Center Volunteer Office. Rosser ensures the Canteen inventory is up to date and shelves are stocked so patients can purchase necessities without having to leave the campus.

Rosser served as a designated escort usher during a Memorial Day celebration for three Aberdeen Gold Star Families in 2016. He also volunteered to help clear and properly dispose of wreaths laid at the Edgewood Cemetery for the annual Wreaths Across America Day.

In addition, Rosser drew and framed the Medal of Honor picture that was displayed during the Veterans Day celebration honoring Harford County’s only Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Civil War veteran, SGT Alfred B. Hilton and he prepared the American White Table, which honors the men and women who served in America’s armed forces.

“I believe that community service at any age is very important,” Rosser said. “When I think about how blessed I am, I realize it is right to give freely of my time for others. I choose to volunteer in the military community because it is very important to honor the men and women who serve to protect our country and our freedoms. After my mother was injured and assigned to the Bethesda Warrior Transition Unit for medical care, I realized volunteers were significant to the healing of service members. More people need to help our heroes and Gold Star Families.”

Family Member Volunteer of the Year

Michele Lenig, the wife of Col. Kenneth A. Lenig, deputy director of the U.S. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity, or AMSAA, has been part of the Army family for nearly 30 years.

Within the last year, Lenig has volunteered with the APG Community Spouses Club as the publicity and website coordinator. Lenig manages the club’s email account, website and Facebook page and designs the monthly newsletter.

She also serves on the board and assists with fundraising events.

As a regular volunteer with the Perry Point VA Medical Center, she also supports events, bake sales, and food drives.

Lenig is also active with the AMSAA holiday families fundraiser, and is a member of the Quilting Project.

“I have always had a desire to help others,” she said. “That passion led me to become a special education teacher and has drawn me toward volunteerism. My hope is that by giving my time I can, in some small way, make a difference for causes that are near and dear to my heart – in particular the military, our veterans, and children with special needs.”

Family Volunteer of the Year

The Murdock Family, which includes Su-Ann Murdock, a supervisory chemist with the Public Health Center; her spouse Terrell Murdock, their daughter Savanna, and son Tyler, volunteer primarily with the APG chapel Gospel Service where they led the Ushering Ministry for fiscal year 2016. The family organizes and schedules ushering activities and maintains the communion table traditions of the service.

In addition, they serve in the Sunday school, children’s church, youth choir, the men’s and women’s choirs, during Vacation Bible School, and with the Freestate ChalleNGe Academy ministry.

When not volunteering at the chapel, they serve at the Sharing Table program in Edgewood.

Terrell Murdock said he and his family “volunteer to bless others, just as we have been blessed.”

The ACS Army Volunteer Corps program manager is Sarah Polanco. For more information about volunteer opportunities on post, contact Polanco at 410-278-2464 or sarah.polanco.civ@mail.mil.

By Lauren Finnegan, APG News