FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Volunteerism is just one way people can make a difference in the community in which they live, and Fort Rucker has no shortage of volunteer opportunities.

There are about 22 organizations that take active volunteers in about 44 different positions, and among the many benefits of volunteering, doing so is a way that newcomers to the installation can get work experience and make lasting connections, said Dolores Mabe, Fort Rucker Army Volunteer Corps program manager.

People come to Fort Rucker from all over the world, and making connections can be difficult, so a good place to start networking is through volunteerism, said Mabe. If people are unsure of how to get started or what they want to do, the Army Volunteer Corps is a good place to start.

"What I like to do when I have a volunteer come in who doesn't quite know what they want to do, is figure out where they might fit and we'll go through the opportunities," said the program manager.

By getting to know the volunteer, Mabe said she can better understand where their skills might benefit the community, or where they can gain work experience to beef up a resume.

Volunteer opportunities exist across a myriad of organizations, including Army Community Service, Boys and Girl Scouts of America, Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, outdoor recreation, child and youth services, the International Military Student Office, Lyster Army Health Clinic, the thrift shop and family readiness groups, just to name a few.

People can also apply to volunteer at various organizations through the Volunteer Management Information System by visiting the VMIS website at

Whether a seasoned volunteer or newcomer, volunteers from all walks of life are welcome, said Mabe. For many volunteers, the time put in can help in the careers they choose to work in.

Kriselda Craven, military spouse and volunteer, teaches the English as a second language and beginner Spanish level courses at the Allen Heights Community Center, and said volunteering helps keep her resume current while she isn't working and helps her delve into the community she now lives in.

"This helps me get to know people and it helps to build my resume (and keep it current) for when I do decide to go back to work," she said.

Craven came to Fort Rucker from Austin, Texas, where she was a first-grade bilingual teacher, and upon arrival was seven months pregnant, but wanting to keep herself busy.

"I came (to ACS) and they had all of these programs available that I was certified for, so I wanted to help," she said.

Fellow volunteer Ilsa McCartt teaches with the beginner Spanish level course, as well, and said this is a good way for her to reach her ultimate goal of becoming a Spanish teacher.

"I wanted to get involved as a way to network and get to know people," she said. "When you move here, you don't know anybody, and one day I want to be a Spanish teacher, so being able to get involved with this class has been so much fun.

"Since I got here in January, everyone in (ACS) has helped me," said McCartt. "They've gotten me connected with other people, and I'm getting official government hours for volunteering, so it's great for my resume. It's very rewarding, too."

Volunteerism is a great way for people to be able to build up work experience if they aren't able to find work or aren't currently in school, added Julianne Villanida, military spouse and ACS volunteer.

"I'm not in school and I'm not working, so this is something I started doing because I wanted to fill up my day, but now I've come to learn that I love doing the work," said the ACS volunteer, adding that gaining the work experience can help her secure a job in the future.

For Liz Tirol, ACS volunteer, the time spent volunteering is more about making connections when coming to a new community.

"I'm a new military spouse and my first duty station was with my husband at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and when we got there, volunteering is how I got to meet new people," she said. "Honestly, I'd rather spend my time volunteering than at a job because it's more fun. I wouldn't stop volunteering for anything."

If people are hesitant about whether they should volunteer, Craven added that it never hurts to ask questions.

"The people here have a lot of resources they can share," she said. "Just come out and talk to someone."

For more information, visit or call 255-1429.