"For someone to give of their time and talents-volunteering is selfless service, our citizens at their best," said Cynthia Rome, Director of the Walter Reed Army Community Service, who oversees the Army Volunteer Corps (AVC), the lead agency for volunteerism at Walter Reed. "We want to embrace them and give them the opportunity to do that." This week, the AVC launches a new Website page and appeals to all departments and current volunteers to register with them.

The goals are more centralized volunteerism at Walter Reed and a one-stop shop for individuals interested in donating their time. "Communication is the key and we are working hard to make sure everyone has all the information they need," Rome said.

Barbara Green, AVC coordinator, encourages people interested in volunteering at Walter Reed to go to the Website: www.wramc.amedd.army.mil where they can view volunteer opportunities and complete an inquiry form indicating their areas of interests. They can also call Green directly at 202-782-3414 for information.

Individuals interested in sponsoring trips for soldiers and their Families to athletic or entertainment events, or hosting dinners or cook-outs on-post should contact Sandra Halmon, Events Coordinator at 202-356-1012 extension 40269 or Harryette Irving, Chief of WRAMC Community Recreation Division (Patient Recreation) at 202-782-7034, or by email, Harryette.Irving@na.amedd.army.mil.

"We want to match their interests with the needs of the organization," Green said.

"We want them to have a meaningful volunteer assignment." Rome said the AVC surveys the installation to find the best opportunity for volunteers to make their experience as rewarding as possible.

Volunteers Support the Hospital and Installation
"It's more than just the hospital; there are so many opportunities here at the Walter Reed military installation, Rome said. "We're all here in support of the hospital." Green agrees. "It's not just the hospital, but the whole installation that needs volunteers."

She indicates the areas with the greatest need for volunteers include the Warrior Transition Brigade (WTB), Army Family Teen Building Program, along with the Child and Youth Services Department, Spouse Employment Program, Army Community Service (ACS), Fisher House and event volunteers for the United Service Organization (USO) and CAUSE, a program that provides a digital library in the Mologne House.

"The WTB needs a runner to do basic errands, administrative help, sponsors for soldiers, and help with their Fall Festival artists, crafters and musicians." She indicates the Red Cross is also a part of the Army Volunteer Corps and would like all volunteers, including those interested in working with the Red Cross, to contact her.

Just one hour volunteering at the hospital's information desk or filing paperwork allows a Walter Reed employee more time to interact with patients and enhance the quality of patient care, Green said. Green indicates there were approximately 800 WRAMC volunteers as of 2006 but estimates there are now many more. She hopes that by the end of August every volunteer at Walter Reed will be registered with the AVC.

That is why Rome encourages all current Walter Reed volunteers and the departments in which they serve to contact AVC.

"We want all volunteers here to get recognized for the great things they do."

Diverse Volunteers Benefit from Experience
Walter Reed's volunteer corps is rich and diverse. It includes employees, Army spouses, teenagers, parents of patients, and retirees.

Army Community Service 2006 volunteer of the year Maria Castellot has been a volunteer for nearly 18 years. She and her husband serve at the hospital information desk.

Micaela Contreras' son is a patient at Fisher House. She volunteers about two to three hours a week and explains while she gives of her time she is also benefiting.

"I feel so happy to be here because I am less stressful because he is in the hospital all day. I come here and learn new skills."

"I didn't know anyone when I got here," says Martiza Tivis, whose husband works in the hospital's Logistics Department. A volunteer with ACS since June, she anticipates a job offer this month. "I love it here-it's wonderful. Something that everyone here should do."

Raquel Umanzor, a prospective college freshman, has volunteered at Walter Reed since high school. "It's been such a great opportunity that more kids should take advantage of. I've learned interview and resume skills, skills I'll use for the rest of my life."

"Volunteers provide a valuable service to the Walter Reed Community. They simply make life better for our soldiers and their Families," Green said.

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This item was featured in the Walter Reed Army Medical community newspaper, the Stripe, and can also be found on the Internet at: http://www.armymedicine.army.mil/news/releases/20070802wrvolunteers.cfm