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Winn honors volunteer service

More than 400 honored

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POSTED: April 22, 2010 4:51 p.m.
Photo by Denise Etheridge/

Winn Army Community Hospital recognized its volunteers Monday with an awards ceremony. From left: Winn Director of Volunteer Services Brigitte Cabeza-Shanken, Winn Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Irizarry, Winn Commander Col. Paul Cordts, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, a hospital volunteer, 3rd ID Deputy Commander General-Rear Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips and Ginger Cucolo.

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Close to 400 dedicated volunteers were recognized for their committed and compassionate service at Winn Army Community Hospital’s 11th annual volunteer awards ceremony Monday.
“Our volunteers have put in 19,000 hours (this year),” said Col. Paul Cordts, Winn commander. Cordts estimated the cost of their volunteer labor at $300,000.
Winn’s commander said hospital volunteers share a common goal “to provide a safe and loving environment for people.”
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, guest speaker for the awards ceremony, said Winn volunteers “put a face on compassion” and are “the face of the hospital.”
“You’re the difference between a good day and a bad day,” he said.
Kingston said in addition to reflecting the best of humanity, volunteers help give the economy “a shot in the arm.”
“In 2009, 26 percent of our population — 64 million people — volunteered in America,” the congressman said. “That’s 800 billion hours. In Georgia, 1.7 million people volunteer each and every day.”
Society “obviously benefits” from volunteers’ service, he said.
Kingston said volunteers, especially seniors, benefit from volunteering as well.
“People who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who don’t volunteer and there are lower rates of depression among volunteers,” he said. Kingston added that volunteers live life with a purpose and therefore thrive.
“Your trust in humanity goes up,” he said. “You (volunteers) give us a sense of inspiration.”
Helen Born, a Red Cross volunteer for 30 years, said her volunteerism is inextricably tied to her Christian faith. Born has volunteered at Winn for the past three years. She is also an Army veteran, having served as a medical NCO during the Vietnam conflict.
“I do this for Christ in my life,” Born said.
She said Jesus Christ “walked the path” to reduce people’s suffering, and she and her husband try to do the same. The pair met while volunteering for the Red Cross.
“We just joined hands and kept on walking,” Born said.
Born received the Winn Army Community Hospital Volunteer of the Year award, said Brigitte Cabeza-Shanken, director of volunteer services.
“Rep. Kingston presented her with a Congressional Certificate of Appreciation,” Cabeza-Shanken said. Kevin Forrest also received a Congressional Certificate of Appreciation Monday for his years of military service, she said.
Army Spc. Sylvia Winn, whose great-grandfather was second cousin to Brig. Gen. Dean F. Winn, the man for whom the hospital was named after, volunteers at Winn. Brig. Gen. Winn was a U.S. Army Medical Corps Orthopedic surgeon. He commanded four hospitals during his career from 1914-1948.
“The recognition is nice, but it’s not needed,” Spc. Winn said. “(Volunteering) is our way to say thanks.”
Winn often volunteers with older veterans.
“I think they (vets) have a lot to offer,” she said. “We can learn from them.”
Winn Army Community Hospital volunteers perform a wide array of tasks and are involved in a number of programs, as well as helping hospital staff care for patients, Cabeza-Shanken said.
“All of you are VIPs,” Cabeza-Shanken told several hundred Winn volunteers gathered for the awards ceremony in the hospital’s Patriot Auditorium Monday.
According to Cabeza-Shanken, civilian adults, teens and seniors, Red Cross volunteers and soldiers from Dentac and Vetcom make up Winn’s volunteer workforce. Along with volunteering in hospital clinics, Winn volunteers participate in community enhancement and partnership programs, she said.
“It is a way to define the bond between the military and the civilian community,” she said.
She said Winn volunteers have visited five local nursing homes several times this year and brought Christmas holiday cheer and Valentine’s Day wishes to veterans at Carl Vinson Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Dublin.
Many Winn volunteers also mentor Liberty County students and visit school classrooms, Cabeza-Shanken added. The hospital has even formed a group of singers called “The Sounds of Winn.” This group of talented Winn volunteers recently performed for World War II veterans as they departed on an Honor Flight trip for Washington D.C., the volunteer services director said.
Volunteering also keeps military spouses busy and brings them self-satisfaction, Cabeza-Shanken said. This helps translate into happier soldiers, especially when troops are deployed, she added.
Cabeza-Shanken, herself a volunteer for 37 years, said volunteerism is a simple and effective way to reach out to those in need.
“Anyone can hold a hand,” she said. “And a smile goes a long way.”
 

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