By Lisa R. RhodesJune 23, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - If it weren't for the hundreds of volunteers who are active in Fort Meade's religious community, the Installation Chaplain's Office would have a difficult time serving congregants and the public.
"We wouldn't be able to function," said Marcia Eastland, the Protestant Religious Education coordinator at Argonne Hills Chapel. "We wouldn't be able to serve the military community without volunteers."
Eastland represented one of the 15 Fort Meade organizations that participated in the Community Volunteer Opportunity Fair held June 14 at the Potomac Place Neighborhood Center.
Representatives from about 20 clubs and organizations on post and local nonprofit and community groups attended the fair to inform the community about volunteer opportunities.
Marie Miles, the Army Volunteer Corps coordinator at Army Community Service and organizer of the event, said opportunities for teens and service members requiring promotion points were a priority at the fair.
"We need to recruit volunteers to fill the much-needed vacancies in organizations," said Miles, noting that the Fort Meade Pet Care Center and Scout troops are among the many organizations that need a helping hand.
Spc. Damian McNeal, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the security office at the 741st Military Intelligence Battalion, said he attended the fair to learn about new volunteer options for the battalion during the summer.
"We try to stay active in the community," said McNeal, noting that many of the 741st MI Soldiers volunteer for the post's Romp 'n Stomp children's program during the school year. "I got a lot of information. We'll talk to see how we can get as involved as we can."
About 75 people came to the fair, said Miles, while 45 people filled out new-volunteer applications.
About 1,200 volunteers currently serve throughout the installation. To become a volunteer, register at www.myArmyOneSource.com. Miles or an organization point of contact will then follow up for an interview to match a volunteer's interests and skills with the right club or organization.
Volunteers who work with children must undergo a background check after they are matched with an organization.
Miles said the current Base Realignment and Closure process requires more people to become dedicated to community service.
"There will be new families coming on the post, and there will be a great need for more outreach and better support," she said.
Lianne Roberts, the newly installed president of the Retired Officers' Wives' Club who attended the event, said club members are happy to serve the community.
"We're willing to solicit our members for anyone who needs assistance [particularly] in the day time," Roberts said. "We're looking to help others."