Hellen Mpundu-Fakolujo (center) welcomes Wiesbaden volunteers
Alice Yasenchak (from left), Sgt. Kajah Thompson and Krystal
Johnson (right) during a volunteer orientation. (Photo Credit: Karl Weisel)

WIESBADEN, Germany - They are no different than paid employees, yet volunteers serve willingly throughout the garrison helping improve the quality of life for all community members.

Whether it’s coaching youth sports teams, helping orient newcomers at Army Community Service, building a set at the Amelia Earhart Playhouse or assisting at a special event with Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers – Family and MWR programs wouldn’t be the same without them.

“If we didn’t have volunteers, a lot of work would not be fulfilled -- without their contributions,” said Wiesbaden Army Volunteer Corps Program Manager Hellen Mpundu-Fakolujo.

While people volunteer for any number of reasons – to share experiences with their children, to gain work experience or simply to give back to the community – their efforts are highly valued.

During annual Volunteer of the Year recognition events, that volunteer time is translated into dollars and cents. In 2021-22 Wiesbaden military community volunteers served for some 45,869 hours (and that’s only volunteer hours tracked through the Volunteer Management Information System), Mpundu-Fakolujo said, explaining that their efforts equated to more than $1.3 million hours of labor donated.

“Volunteers are nominated monthy, quarterly and annually for recognition,” she said. “Each organization has an agency point of contact to nominate outstanding volunteers.”

“We are always looking for volunteers to assist with our programs. Volunteering is one way to network and gain work experience,” said Mpundu-Fakolujo, who also manages the Army Family Team Building and Army Family Action Plan programs for Wiesbaden Army Community Service. “It’s a great way for someone to get to know the community and to render service.”

Interested volunteers can visit the website -- https://wiesbaden.armymwr.com/programs/army-volunteer-corps -- or stop by ACS (Building 7780) to speak with the Army Volunteer Corps Manager to learn more about the numerous openings available in the community. “Everybody will find something to meet his or her needs,” said Mpundu-Fakolujo, adding that that includes jobs with the medical profession, legal, in the schools – entry level and management positions.

“A lot of people are able to find jobs through volunteering,” she said, pointing out that on-the-job training is an important benefit of volunteering. “For instance, when volunteering with the Army Family Team Building Program, the training they get earns certification that can be put on one’s resume.”

“I like to make use of my talents and to be helpful – also to gain some extra skills,” said Krystal Johnson, who volunteered in the States at a local hospital, and now volunteers at the Wiesbaden Elementary School Cafeteria and for the school’s Parent Teacher Organization.

“I’m interested in professional development and personal development,” Johnson said.

For Alice Yasenchak, volunteering for the Relocation Readiness Program, has been a way to share her knowledge and cultural background (she was born and raised in Germany) with newcomers – helping support orientation tours.

“I actually got into it because I’m looking for a job,” Yasenchak said, explaining she would like to work in the host nation field as a customer service representative.

Sgt. Kajah Thompson, 55th Quartermaster Company, said volunteering is a way to gain professional development toward her goal of eventually working in the child development field.

“I used to volunteer in Seattle – helping out in homeless shelters and at schools,” said Thompson. “I’m a people person – I like to see people smile.”