By M.L. Doyle, Fort Meade Public Affairs

The Batiste family volunteered more than 1835 hours to the Fort Meade Community. One year old Armondo, III, Tech Sgt. Armondo Batiste, Jr., Ethan (9), Elizabeth and Abram (6). The family, who often volunteer together, were recognized during the Fort Meade COVID Facebook town hall on Oct. 22.

Nyland announces outstanding volunteers

Last year around this time, the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner was an event to look forward to. Hundreds of people gathered to recognize the thousands of volunteers who support the Fort Meade community through volunteering and to celebrate outstanding efforts in volunteering.

As much as they tried, this year the organizers could not come up with an event that would meet all of the restrictions due to COVID while still providing the recognition the volunteers deserve.

Fort Meade Garrison Commander, Col. Christopher Nyland, took the opportunity of the bi-weekly COVID Facebook Town Hall to announce the Fort Meade outstanding volunteers for the year.

“Fort Meade could not do the things it does for our community without our more than 3,600 registered volunteers who logged more than 36,000 volunteer hours last year,” said Nyland. “They range in age from 12 to over 80, and they do everything from manning the thrift shop to helping with post clean up and tutoring our youth.”

The volunteers are registered with the Army Community Service volunteer program. Voncile Farmer is Fort Meade’s Volunteer Coordinator. She says picking the winning volunteers from the hundreds who give of their time is a difficult but worthwhile effort.

“We receive nominations in all of the categories, then a team of professionals go through the nominations and score them according to a rubric,” said Farmer. “The volunteers with the highest scores in each category win.”

Emily Bourdon is the Fort Meade Youth Volunteer of the year. Bourdon has been volunteering in the FGGM community for years under her platform, "Serve and Salute" where she supports military families via the USO, Operation Welcome Home and Honor Flights. She is also an assistant Scout Platoon Leader.

Air Force Tech Sgt Ashley Richwine from the 32nd Intelligence Squadron volunteers in multiple ways – from fundraising and special events for the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, to handing out snacks at the Fort Meade USO, or training community members as part of the Anne Arundel County/Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team. Between setting up pet adoption events to participating in training exercises for search and rescue certifications, Richwine has given over 280 hours of volunteer time and is recognized as the Fort Meade Active Duty Volunteer of the Year.

“It’s an honor to be recognized and I am thankful to my previous supervisor, MSgt Anthony Varoskovic, for always believing in me,” said Richwine. “I also hope that this inspires other Active Duty members to get to know their local community and make a difference in the lives of others.”

Air Force Tech Sgt Armondo Batista Jr. of the 315th Cyber Operations Squadron, along with his spouse, Elizabeth "Ellie" Batista and their children, Ethan (9), Abram (6) and and Armondo III, who is one year-old, have been named Fort Meade’s Volunteer Family of the Year. The Batistas have volunteered 1,835 hours with six different Fort Meade organizations.

“This is truly humbling,” said Batista. “But our jobs as volunteers are not done, nor will they ever be done. There are many families that rely on the work that volunteers do. We urge others to find an organization that lines up with their passion where they can become a volunteer serving their community … One motto we choose to live by is, "If you are gone today what will you be remembered by? Will you be another John or Jane Doe or someone that has left a legacy and impact?"

The Batista family as served 856 hours with the Fort Meade Spouses' Club where Mrs. Batista serves as Vice President. She volunteered an additional 165 hours with the Post Thrift Shop. 

Tech. Sgt. Batista has given 195 hours as an Assistant Coach to the Severn Athletic Club and several hours with helping provide mental health first aid for children. The Batista kids have served alongside their parents in many of the various activities.

For anyone who attends events around the installation, it’s probably not a surprise that the Fort Meade Spouses’ Cub has been recognized as the Volunteer Organization of the Year. The Spouses’ Club participates in everything from the day-to-day operations of the Post Thrift Shop, to organizing the annual Children’s Holiday Party attended by more than 1,300 military members and their children. The Spouses’ Club also raised $51,600 in scholarship funds which were awarded to military dependents. In total the active group volunteered over 19,000 hours to the Fort Meade Community. 

A member of the Spouses’ Club was recognized as the Civilian Volunteer of the Year. Malory Noble volunteered more than 1,100 hours in the Post Thrift Shop. Noble also help organize the installation “Clean up 2019,” and she is a member of the Wreaths Across America Baltimore National Cemetery's Chapter Committee in Catonsville, MD.

Farmer uses a quote from Albert Einstein in her signature block. The quote says, “Only a life lived for others, is a life worth living.” In Farmer’s own words, volunteers are the heart of any community.

“I would like to wholeheartedly thank all our wonderful volunteers for their hard work and dedication,” Farmer said. 

As outstanding as these volunteers are, there’s always room for more volunteers. Farmer says logging onto allows would be volunteers to search for opportunities after they register. Volunteers are also welcomed to approach organizations directly to see about volunteer opportunities.

“Active duty volunteers can earn promotion points for their service,” said Farmer. “By registering with online, the volunteer record is transferable worldwide and can be updated for their prospective community once they (change duty stations).