Volunteers strengthen themselves, organizations
March 7, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Mar. 8, 2012) -- Whether you are looking for job experience, a resume builder or simply a way to connect with people in the area, volunteering has something to offer.
"Volunteering offers a wide variety of personal benefits, such as new job skills, networking, on the job training and experience for a resume," but it also builds a stronger sense of community, says Karen Hayes, the Army Volunteer Corps Program Manager.
Hayes' job is to connect volunteers with the best place for them to serve. She says there are both short-term and permanent positions, as well as positions for varying levels of mobility.
She encourages Families, friends and colleagues to volunteer together. Working together gives parents a chance to teach, by example, the value of giving back, she said.
"There is a stronger sense of community, especially for the military, when the Family becomes involved in the world outside of the gates. These efforts strengthen community relationships and support the efforts of organizations everywhere," Hayes said.
Volunteers are especially important for organizations with limited resources. Hayes said these groups "simply could not exist without dedicated volunteers." Other organizations, such as the Fort Rucker Thrift Shop, would be limited in what funds they could give back to the community.
"Organizations such as Youth Services utilize volunteers as coaches and mentors for a majority of their programs," she said. "Many parents give their time because they have a vested interest in making sure their children have the opportunity to participate, but we also have flight students and civilian employees that step up and assist whenever needed."
Richard Kynard has been volunteering with Army Community Service for about nine months. He does mostly administration work such as putting together relocation packets and greeting Soldiers that are in-processing or out-processing.
Kynard says he started volunteering after retirement to help the military perform its mission at Fort Rucker and around the world.
Joan Willingham, another ACS volunteer, has a similar story. After she retired, she had a dog that kept her busy at home, but eventually, she had to have the dog put down. Willingham said she was not content to sit at home watching television.
"I needed to do something useful," she said.
She started volunteering at ACS about five or six months ago, and "I've been here ever since," she said.
She encouraged others to join the volunteer ranks with her. "I think everyone should volunteer. I think everyone who's retired should give some of their time," she said. "It's so worthwhile. The satisfaction is enormous."
ACS and the thrift shop are just two of the many volunteer opportunities around Fort Rucker. On post, volunteers are almost always needed for Family Readiness Groups, chapel activities and the schools. Hayes says most of the opportunities on post can be found on www.myarmyonesource.com.
Volunteer positions posted on the website usually include a description of the need, a point of contact and an online application.
If someone is interested in volunteering off post, Hayes can help with that, too. Around Fort Rucker, Habitat for Humanity, local animal shelters and several Hospice organizations are usually in need of volunteers.
She can give potential volunteers the information they need to pursue opportunities at any of these organizations.
"There are volunteer opportunities for everyone whether you want to give your time every week, once a month or once a year." Hayes says.
If anyone would like to volunteer, but is unsure of where they would like to work, Hayes says they can make an appointment with her to discuss it. To make an appointment or to learn more about volunteer opportunities around Fort Rucker, call 255-3643.