Volunteer finds unique opportunities, benefits in service
March 23, 2010
- Volunteering uses attorney's skills in meaningful way
- Employers look at depth of volunteer work
- Army shows it values volunteers through training
SCHINNEN, Netherlands - Lyra Kramer left a thriving legal practice when she moved to the Netherlands with her Army husband, but she quickly found an outlet for her professional skills at U.S. Army Garrison Schinnen's Army Community Service.
April is volunteer recognition month and USAG Schinnen will hold its cermony in the JFC Conference Center April 16, noon to 2:30 p.m. to honor Soldier and civilian volunteers whoAca,!a,,cve shared their time and talent to our military community.
Kramer volunteers as an Army Family Team Building instructor, teaching classes in military culture and the unique aspects of Army life.
"This was an attractive opportunity because it helped me learn more about the military system, since I've only been a military spouse for five years myself, and it put to use some of my skills in a meaningful way," Kramer said. She was also pleased that the volunteer stint would look good on her resume.
Sylvia Bowron, Schinnen's Volunteer Coordinator, says that is one of the primary benefits of volunteering. Her program attracts a lot of spouses like Kramer who come from a busy career environment in the U.S., only to discover few job opportunities here.
"We're able to find a program or a project these highly motivated, highly skilled people can believe in and get excited about. Then it goes on their resumes, so there's not a big gap they must explain to potential employers later," Bowron said.
Employers look at the depth of an applicant's volunteer work because it gives them an indication of how much the applicant would be dedicated to the company, Bowron said. "Many of our volunteers get involved here, then return to the U.S. and land a great job, thanks to the experiences they had here," she explained.
Kramer recently completed a week-long master trainer course in Garmish, and the Army picked up the tab, which she admits "truly amazed" her. "This level of professional instruction would be very expensive if I embarked on something like that in the U.S.," she said. "Investing those resources in volunteers and connecting them with meaningful volunteer opportunities certainly demonstrates their value."
April is National Volunteer Month, a time set aside every year to recognize volunteers around the world who give their time and talents to help build stronger communities. At USAG Schinnen, the contributions of volunteers are significant beyond compare, according to Bowron. She points to the Army Volunteer Management Information System (VMIS), an online database that Schinnen uses to track volunteer hours.
When volunteers leave, they may request a letter from the garrison commander documenting the number of hours and describing the service they provided, as substantiated in the VMIS. "This letter is a great attachment to submit with a rAfAsumAfA or job application because it qualifies and quantifies volunteer service in a way that impresses potential employers," Bowron said. It's just one more way to demonstrate the value of volunteers.