Soldier's 'volun-cation' aids disabled campers
September 7, 2011
Rock Island, Ill. - From the moment a Soldier files a vacation leave request, most look forward to time with family or friends, a beach vacation, or some other fun or relaxation. Few would volunteer their time off to work hard for perfect strangers.
Count Army Sustainment Command's own Chief Warrant Officer 4 Serena Jordan among the few.
Jordan, ASC's Asset Visibility Branch chief, spent a week this summer at Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake, Calif., which serves campers with physical, emotional and developmental disabilities. She volunteered as a food service worker, responsible for the dietary needs and restrictions for 18 campers on special diets.
Throughout her 17 years in the Army, Jordan has maintained an interest in healthy living. "I've always been interested in nutrition and fitness. I said I need to finish my duty as a property book officer and before I retire, I think working in the dietetic field is what I want to do."
In addition to her Army service, Jordan is also in the process of completing her undergraduate degree in dietetics through the distance learning program at the University of Alabama. As a part of her study, she became aware of learning opportunities through the American Dietetic Association's blog board. She heard about the Camp Ronald McDonald opportunity on the ADA board.
"My instructors always encourage getting dietetic practice, testing the water so to speak, so I can apply what I've learned in my coursework," said Jordan. "On my summer vacations, when I can get them, I like to volunteer."
Jordan said the days were long and filled with many chores. "My day started at 7 a.m. and I went until 7:30 pm," said Jordan. "My duties included preparation, cooking and serving of meals and when I wasn't doing that I had dishwashing duties -- so I went back to doing grunt work. Also, there were five interns and I helped them prep food for the next day."
While food preparation may sound like a walk in the park to some, Jordan had to tap into her wealth of knowledge to address a variety of needs -- anti-choking, anti-diarrheal and vegetarian diets to name a few.
"I had one camper that ate the same meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner and another camper whose parents brought in the meals which I prepared and cooked for him," said Jordan.
Keeping all of the campers and their needs straight is a challenge that Jordan rose to and excelled at, according to a letter that camp director Vicky Flaig wrote to Jordan's Army boss.
"Logistically and technically she handled the job with ease and exception," wrote Flaig. "I worked closely with Serena and watched her adapt to the position and all of its responsibilities."
This is no surprise to Jordan's supervisor, Allen Sims, chief of the Accountability Division at ASC. Sims said that Jordan's "openness and strong desire to do right," are the main reasons why she was recognized by the camp director.
"I was impressed that Chief Jordan would use her time and money to do this. It says a lot about the kind of person -- and Soldier -- she is," said Sims. "I believe this command should be proud of her efforts and kindness, which reflect great credit upon her and the United States Army."
While Jordan was fully immersed in dietetic duties during her time at Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake, she is no novice to volunteering. While stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, Jordan, a Billy Blanks-certified Tae Bo instructor, offered her time to teach the marital art through that installation's Morale Welfare and Recreation office.
Jordan encourages anyone with enough drive to consider volunteering their time to help others. "If it's in you, do it," said Jordan. "Keep in mind that if this is what you want to do, then you've got to pour your heart into it."
As for the future, Jordan's goal is to become an Army Dietitian. She plans on applying to the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) as a Dietitian during her last semester of undergraduate work.