FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Volunteerism is one way that people can benefit the lives of others, and Fort Rucker is making it easier for people to get involved in their community through selfless service.
Army Community Service will host the 2017 Fort Rucker Volunteer Recruitment Fair Aug. 16 from 9-11:30 a.m. at The Landing, and people from all over the Wiregrass are invited to learn the ways they can give back to the community, said Samantha Gonzalez, ACS volunteer.
"There will be internal and external agencies that will set up tables and give people information on what their service is, what they offer, how they help the community, and try and share the opportunities that are available to people," she said. "With this being such a small community and such a transient community, people who might not be interested in finding a job, but want to still contribute and be active, volunteering is a great way for them to do that without any commitment or time restraints."
The fair will feature representatives from local nonprofit and community organizations to discuss volunteer opportunities, as well as answer any questions people might have not only about volunteering, but about what resources are available to them through the various organizations.
"It's a good chance for people to find out what types of programs are available on the installation," said Gonzalez. "It's a great opportunity for them to ask questions and learn about resources that they didn't know existed."
Volunteerism is a way that people can get involved in their community and have an impact on people's lives in a way that can improve their quality of life, said the ACS volunteer.
"The impact can be profound," she said. "It really comes down to servant leadership -- do for them as you would want to have them do for you. Give them the tools that they need to overcome whatever it is that they're experiencing -- a little bit really can go a really long way."
Gonzalez said she was directly impacted by volunteerism growing up, which is why she knows the impact that volunteers can have on the lives of people who benefit from these organizations.
"I volunteer because I personally benefitted from volunteer services as a kid," she said. "We left a troubled family environment, and it was the work of a lot of volunteers who helped keep our life somewhat stable as kids, so I've always felt like I have this debt to repay back and I'm always trying to be the person who helped me. Even if it benefits one person over the next 10 years, I feel like I've accomplished that."
Not all volunteer work is working directly with family members or Soldiers, but can also involve administrative work, which is how Karyn Kaempfer, Army Emergency Relief volunteer, chooses to give her time in service.
"Working with [AER], most of what I do is administrative -- I don't work with any of the clients or anything like that," she said. "But what I do I feel like it gives [AER] the opportunity to spend more time dealing with the clients because I can take care of the little things, which gives [them] more time with the clients to help them out a little bit more."
Kaempfer, who has been a military spouse 24 years, has spent much of it volunteering her time to help others, and said it's a great way to spend time in the community and give a sense of purpose.
"For me, my kids are gone, so I have a lot of time at home … so I like volunteering because it gives me something to do without having the rigidness of a schedule and having to be at work five days a week," she said.
The time spent volunteering is also a good way to gain work experience to add to a resume, added Elizabeth Tirol, Army Family Action Plan volunteer.
"I've been trying to build up my resume because I'm pretty fresh out of college and I don't have much on my resume to begin with, so volunteering helps," she said. "It's a great way to make friends, too. Every time we go to a new installation, that's how I find my buddy."
Although volunteerism might not be for everyone, Gonzalez said that it's something that everyone should give a try because they never know what opportunities might open up for them.
"Just try it once. If it's not for you, then you can say you at least tried it, but you might be surprised at what you discover in the process," she said. "You may find that you really enjoy it or that you're good at whatever opportunity is presented to you, or you may find you have a passion you didn't know about -- just try it."