Time to emulate volunteers who change Army lives
SAN ANTONIO (April 2, 2014) -- "Army Volunteers: Changing Lives and Communities" is the U.S. Army's theme for Volunteer Appreciation Week 2014, scheduled for April 6 through 12.
Established in 1974, National Volunteer Week is a time to celebrate people doing extraordinary things through voluntary service. It is a time for the nation to focus on the impact and power of volunteerism and service as an integral aspect of civic leadership.
President Barack Obama supports and endorses this public acknowledgement of volunteerism, along with senators, congressmen and women, governors, mayors, municipal leaders, and corporate and community groups across America.
Volunteers help make life easier and more enjoyable, on a daily basis, on many Army installations and garrisons around the world. One example is Mara Barthel, a Gold Star spouse who has volunteered more than 3,600 hours for the Army Family and Community Services' Survivor Outreach Services, the Lewis Community Spouses Club and Santa's Castle at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. She also assists with the annual Snowball Express and Heroes to Hometown events, and works with the local Gold Star Wives group.
"My experiences at Joint Base Lewis-McChord have given me a purpose to educate and be educated," Barthel said. "It has been a great experience."
National Volunteer Week is also about engaging people in their communities through volunteering. It's about demonstrating to the nation that working together provides the fortitude to meet challenges and accomplish goals.
Stephanie Lowe volunteers as co-leader of the D/7-17Cavalry's Family Readiness Group at Fort Campbell, Ky., where she assists with team building and motivating military families. She made it mandatory for the troop to have at least one team-building session every month. During the past seven months, Lowe led the group to two spouse nights out, one family movie night at the Family Readiness Center, one rock-climbing event, and a run through the Morale, Welfare and Recreation obstacle course.
"Our country is strong because of the Army, the Army is strong because of the Soldiers, and the Soldiers are strong because of their families," Lowe said. "I volunteer as a way to serve my country and support my husband as he serves in the Army."
Beverly Bishop gave back more than 250 hours while serving Soldiers and civilians mobilizing and demobilizing through the Soldier Readiness and Resilience Center at Fort Bliss, Texas. She said volunteering helped improve her health and attitude about life, which helped her regain strength while recovering from heart surgery.
National Volunteer Week encourages individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change -- discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference.
Louise Griswold is a stalwart making a difference through the Armed Forces team-building at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. She volunteered more than 1,200 hours to her Family Readiness Group, sharing her experience and wisdom with service members and their families. Her volunteer motto: "People may forget what you say, forget what you do, but they never forget how you made them feel."
National Volunteer Week is not only our moment in time to celebrate our volunteers, but to share ideas, practices, and stories -- a time for citizens to help mold their expectations for the 21st century.
Alice Coleman is a volunteer instructor for Dinner on a Dime, a financial readiness program class that teaches Soldiers and spouses how to prepare inexpensive home-cooked meals at Fort Bliss. The class is a hands-on experience as Coleman demonstrates her craft while discussing costs of the meals and offering adaptations to suit various taste buds.
Coleman carefully schedules classes with holidays in mind. She uses produce of the current season for two reasons: because fresh produce is healthier and in-season produce is more economical. She also takes cooking abilities, cookware availability, and busy schedules into account. She ensures they have an opportunity to stir, chop, mix and pour during class, to help build their confidence in the kitchen.
"I volunteer because it's important to give back," Coleman said.