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How to choose where to volunteer

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Dennis Carr
  • 380th Expeditionary Contracting Squadron

Editor's Note: Master Sgt. Dennis Carr was recently named the 55th Mission Support Group's 2012 Volunteer of the Year at Offutt Air Force Base. He is currently in the run for the wing-level award.

Often times when someone gets the idea to volunteer, the issue isn't the willingness, but rather what to volunteer for. There are many professional organizations out there, both military and civilian, so the biggest question becomes where to begin. In the environment of ever-increasing workloads and less time available to volunteer, a service member must often weigh a few options of where to do their volunteer work. In evaluating where to devote your time and energy, consider a few things.

First, is there anything you want to do that you haven't tried yet? Perhaps you've wanted to be involved in a professional organization like the First 4 or 5/6 Council? These are relatively easy to check out. You're not committed if you attend just a couple meetings to see what goes on. Some of the biggest benefits of these organizations are a collective voice to leadership and meeting peers from outside your career field. There are other organizations such as the Air Force Sergeants Association, a collection of enlisted personnel across all grades with a specific focus or mission.

What if you'd like to devote some energy to off-base organizations? The key to this selection process is finding something you would enjoy doing. For example, there is a non-profit organization that builds houses and requires different skill sets such as plumbing or carpentry to assist in the build. Other organizations give special needs children the opportunity to compete in games, and always needs chaperones to help. Those are just two examples, but there are others like your local food pantry, homeless shelter and so on that gladly accept additional helpers.

Even here there are opportunities to be involved. The Community Activities Center frequently asks for help with events and the fitness center almost always needs a helping hand for the various holiday "fun runs."

The professional organizations are represented here as well and are always looking for help with their activities.

Ultimately, volunteering is about doing something you're passionate about and finding that group or organization that you really want to help out. If you can accomplish this, then your volunteering "work" won't seem much like work at all.