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Fort Drum Volunteer of the Year Award 3 wb.jpgAbove: Samantha Mohr, center, receives the 2023 Fort Drum Volunteer of the Year Award from the 10th Mountain Division (LI) command team April 4 at the Peak. Mohr also was recognized as Soldier and Family Readiness Group Volunteer of the Year. (Photo by Glenn Wagner, Fort Drum Visual Information) Right: Grant Gillman accepts the Youth Group Volunteer of the Year award from Col. Matthew Myer and Command Sgt. Maj. Jeremiah Larson. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

Fort Drum, 10th Mountain Division leaders honor Volunteer of the Year awardees

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (April 5, 2024) – Volunteers help to transform a military installation into a community where people are proud to live and work. They freely give their time and energy toward causes they care about, which creates lasting positive impacts.

While volunteers contribute without need for attention, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) officials recognized their achievements April 4 during the Volunteer of the Year Awards Ceremony at The Peak.

“Our volunteers do so much for our community, and they get nothing in return other than knowing that they’ve contributed greatly to our families, our children, and to each other,” said Maj. Gen. Gregory Anderson, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander.

Anderson said that volunteers are a vital part of the Army team, and their selfless service is a motivator and inspiration to others.

“We are glad, and we are lucky to have you in our community,” he said. “We, as a species, do not succeed unless we are caring for each other, serving each other, and looking out for each other. That’s the real reward that comes from volunteerism, and it’s a natural part of who we are.”

Fort Drum volunteers recorded 31,065 hours of service into the Volunteer Management Information System (VMIS) last fiscal year. This equates to a monetary value of roughly $988,000, with the value of each volunteer hour estimated at $31.80.

“You make a big difference,” Anderson said. “And we are so grateful for what you do. Our community does not work without you. Thank you.”

The theme of this year’s ceremony was “Shining a Light on our Volunteers.”

The following community members were nominated for 2023 Volunteer of the Year in their respective categories:

Soldier and Family Readiness Group – Nicole Janis, Catherine Banaszak, Sgt. Christian Shiver, Kristina Herrera, Patricia Schmidt, Sgt. Yaritza Serrato-Pasillas, Emma Kelley, Yemi Osorio, Samantha Mohr, Alexa Buchanan, Graciela Ramirez Arvizu, Jesse Pritchard, Cristin Stapler, and Capt. Amber Small.

Large Community Group – Megan Bernardez and Capt. Aaron Wrinkle.

Child and Youth Group – Daniela Contreras, Hayley LaRose, and Timothy Picard.

Youth Group – Grant Gillman.

Small Community Group – Lauren Smith and Patti Agard.

Samantha Mohr was named Soldier and Family Readiness Group Volunteer of the Year. She served as company adviser, key caller, and care team member for 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Through her tireless volunteer efforts, Mohr had a pivotal role in supporting Soldiers and their families. Her adaptive planning, clear communication, and genuine care for others proved unwavering during a period marked by deployments and transitions.

Daniela Contreras was named Child and Youth Group Volunteer of the Year. As a Cub Scout den leader and committee chair, Contreras embodied the values of scouting through her actions and dedication to the growth and development of youths. She ensured that all Cub Scouts and their leaders received the support and mentorship they needed to thrive.

Lauren Smith was named Small Community Group Volunteer of the Year. Smith volunteered at the Fort Drum Thrift Shop while also serving as a Soldier and Family Readiness Group senior adviser. She assisted with four coat drives in 2023 and provided superior customer service at the shop to ensure a pleasant shopping experience for Fort Drum community members.

Megan Bernardez was named Large Community Group Volunteer of the Year. As a Religious Services board member and leader, Bernardez volunteered at numerous Religious Support Office events and programs. She led a group of preschool-aged children at Awana Bible Club and serves as administrative executive board member for the Protestant Women of the Chapel.

Grant Gillman was named Youth Group Volunteer of the Year for his achievements as a youth leader and volunteer in the community. Grant volunteered at Carthage High School as senior class president and tutors middle school students. He volunteered at the Fort Drum Thrift Shop, the Salvation Army, Carthage Nursing Home, Meadowbrook Assisted Living, and his church.

“This was humbling,” Gillman said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve others. I’m just glad to be able to give back whenever I can.”

That included this past winter, when he became involved in the snow removal program for families of deployed Soldiers.

“Any time it snowed, I’d go out – my dad would help sometimes – and I’d get some buddies and we’d get in the truck and find anybody who needed help,” Gillman said. “It’s just the right thing to do.”

Gillman credited his parents for inspiring him to volunteer.

“My parents have been a great example for me,” he said. “My dad is in the Army, and he’s been a pristine example of what service really is, and I believe my mom does the exact same thing being a mother of four. She is an exemplary role model to us.”

Mohr was named overall 2023 Fort Drum Volunteer of the Year.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” she said. “But this was a team effort because 4-31 really came together during this deployment – there’s an awesome group of ladies, and we all got through it together. They nominated me, and I they all should have been up there to receive the award with me.”

Mohr said this was her family’s third deployment, and it proved difficult at times. Helping other families through their own challenging moments is why she started volunteering with a Soldier and Family Readiness Group.

“We all have to survive this crazy world together, so why not make it better for everybody,” she said. “And have fun while we’re doing it, make some friends and just do the best we can for each other.”

The SFRG implemented a Barracks Basket program so that redeploying Soldiers would find all the essentials they need upon their return. Mohr said they didn’t have the donation support that was normally available, so they brainstormed and found creative solutions to make it work.

“It was a long process, but it was rewarding to see it done successfully,” she said. “We made sure they had sheets, pillows, blankets, and towels. We put snacks in their rooms and frozen foods in their freezer so when they came home, they were not just walking into an empty room. If their plane lands at 11 p.m., they can go right to sleep or have something to eat without worrying about getting their car out of storage and driving to the store.”

Mohr said the greatest reward is the friends she has made through volunteering.

“There are Army spouses all across the country, and I could pick up my phone right now and call them and we could talk for hours,” she said. “My friends are the best.”

To learn more about the Fort Drum Army Volunteer Corps, visit Volunteer opportunities are posted on VMIS at

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Fort Drum community members are recognized for exceptional volunteer service during the Volunteer of the Year Award Ceremony, April 4, at The Peak. (Photo by Glenn Wagner, Fort Drum Visual Information)