FORT POLK, La. — Have you ever wished you could do something that makes a difference, but you don’t know how? It’s a quandary, but not one that can’t be overcome. Volunteering is one of the ways people can make that drive to help others a reality.Yamel Munoz, Army Community Service outreach program coordinator, said Fort Polk’s Army Volunteer Program functions as a coordinating effort between the organizations on the installation in need of aid and interested volunteers.“I help Soldiers, Families and Department of Defense civilians who are interested in helping our installation with finding proper placement,” she said.Members of the Fort Polk community can volunteer with organizations such as Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, ACS, the environmental program, the Fort Polk museum, Judge Advocate General’s Corps and more.Munoz said Fort Polk has many organizations that are essentially run and maintained by volunteers.“For instance, Child and Youth Services coaches are volunteers,” she said.Munoz said there are a number of reasons people volunteer. In some cases, they just want to get out of the house while also trying to help Fort Polk, but others are also trying to learn needed skills at the same time.“Volunteering as an administrative assistant can equip a spouse with needed skills; or if they are going to school in a medical field, they may request volunteer work at BJACH. Volunteering can add positive work experience to a resume,” she said.Whatever their goal, Munoz said the job of the volunteer program is to link people with well-suited volunteer positions.Munoz runs the Volunteer Management Information System. This is where the volunteers register online as a volunteer and apply for a position.“In order to volunteer on Fort Polk, they have to register in VMIS,” she said.Some organizations have their own organizational points of contact, which manage volunteers within their programs.“If a person wants to volunteer as a CYS coach, they will be directed to apply via VMIS. My job is to coordinate all the volunteers and organizations under one umbrella,” said Munoz.Munoz said if any volunteer has issues, they are welcome to talk to her.“It could be the hours, the VMIS system or that a position isn’t working for them. At that point, I can place them in a different position. Whatever it is, I’ll help them resolve it,” she said.Munoz said one of the greatest gifts the volunteer program gives to its volunteers is exposing them to an array of organizations and opportunities.“I think it helps Soldiers and Families at Fort Polk because it gives them focus, something positive to do and the tools to discover the resources available for them on the installation,” she said. “From Fort Polk’s perspective, I think volunteers are part of the installation’s ‘people first’ concept because volunteering brings to light how much Fort Polk values people,” she said.Marissa Schuhlein said she has volunteered her entire life and is always looking for new possibilities to lend a helping hand.“I guess it’s ingrained in me. Wherever we go, I look for opportunities to volunteer in my community,” she said.Volunteering is something that Schuhlein said makes her feel happy.“Giving back to the community is fulfilling, but it’s also a great way to meet people and make friends in a new place,” she said.Schuhlein has worked as an ACS receptionist, a Family Readiness Group leader and more. She said Fort Polk’s Volunteer Program is great.“I love that this program is already in place and well organized. In other locations, it can be overwhelming and difficult to find places to volunteer,” she said. “Fort Polk has a straight line of communication through Yamel, and she has a package of 50 places to volunteer. There is something for everyone.”Janine Proto has lived at Fort Polk for four years and said she wanted to do her part to make people happy through volunteering. She volunteers at Mothers of Preschoolers and as an FRG leader.“I want to give people a reason to get out of the house and discover the opportunities around them,” she said. “When I learn new information, I share it with others.”Proto said in addition to being a mother, volunteering gives her purpose.“It makes me feel focused, well rounded and happier,” she said.Tyana Smith has volunteered at ACS, as an FRG leader, at the Main Post Exchange and more. She is working toward a business degree and said the volunteering helps her gain experience in real-world situations.“I’ve met great people and learned communication skills and more through volunteering. It’s more than I ever learned in school,” she said.Smith said the volunteer program is important because, from an educational standpoint, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to apply for internships.“Volunteering fills that gap,” she said.Smith said volunteering isn’t all about getting her degree.“I also volunteer because it feels great to help people ,” she said. “It’s about being selfless and worrying about more than yourself. We all have to work together to make the world a better place.For more information about the Fort Polk Army Volunteer Program call 531-1895.