Kenneth Donnolly, who was nominated by the Catholic Community Church, was named this year’s Youth Volunteer of the Year. Donnolly, who recently graduated from high school, was an altar server and usher at Hainerberg Chapel. In addition, he volunteered as a school ambassador, giving tours for special guests, and as battalion commander at the Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps unit at Wiesbaden High School.
At church, he assisted the priest during mass by holding the missal and getting the chalices. When ushering, he did the head count of the people attending mass, brought the bread and the wine up to the altar, handed out pamphlets and collected donations.
“Honestly, I did not expect that I’d get the award,” Donnolly said. “When they told me I did get it, I was very honored.” Donnolly added he is very thankful to the people who supported and fostered his development.
Donnolly, who came to Wiesbaden in 2014 with his parents, had started volunteering for his church in Alaska. He has moved quite a few times in his life. Having been born in New York, he has lived in Georgia, Alaska, Belgium and Germany.
The 17-year-old is a committed volunteer who dedicated around 400 hours to the community during the last year. “It makes me happy to volunteer,” Donnolly said. “It’s nice to be part of something bigger and help in the community. … I just would like to encourage everybody to volunteer for their community because volunteers are always needed.”
As battalion commander of the JROTC unit he was in charge of 70 to 90 cadets. They provided color guards and saber guards for various events, and also volunteered in the community. On Memorial Day, for example, they handed out pamphlets and Buddy Poppies, and acted as ushers for the community ceremony.
Donnolly recalled a funny incident once at a volleyball game. He was there with the color guard members, and they thought it would be their turn soon, since it seemed that the team was about to finish warming up. They got ready to present the colors and went to the backside of the court. However, the team started spiking practice.
“So, they would start hitting the balls really hard across, and … we were just trying to keep the military bearing, while all these volleyballs started hitting the wall right next to us,” Donnolly said, “and some of them would hit us, and we were standing there.”
Donnolly said he likes being part of the military community, and he appreciates the team spirit and openness of the community members. His objectives for the future will keep him close to the military. He plans on attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with the goal of commissioning as a second lieutenant in Aviation.
This is Part 4 of a series highlighting volunteers in the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden community.