Volunteerism benefits community, builds camaraderie

By Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez | U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs | Nov. 29, 2011

Volunteers from JFCC-GS pose for a group photo, after being presented with a certificate of appreciation by Bill Swick, treasurer for Habitat for Humanity of Sarpy County.
Volunteers from JFCC-GS pose for a group photo, after being presented with a certificate of appreciation by Bill Swick, treasurer for Habitat for Humanity of Sarpy County.

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - Some servicemembers work hard building structures with loud rattling power tools, others deliver home-cooked meals to elderly strangers who could use a helping hand, while others choose to mentor impressionable youth who need strong role models to look up to.

These servicemembers aren’t deployed to a foreign land attempting to win hearts and minds, but instead are using volunteerism as a way to contribute and build positive relationships within their own local communities.

“I believe fostering military and local community partnerships provide support networks for both entities through a strengthened alliance,” said Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Bruce DeJong, all source intelligence technician, Joint Forces Component Command for Global Strike, U.S. Strategic Command. “Volunteering is one way to share in the challenges that communities face, and improve the quality of life for residents. ”

Chief DeJong has volunteered for a variety of causes including working in soup kitchens, donating goods to food banks, and even serving as an income tax assistant. Most recently, he rallied more than 50 Global Strike personnel, including servicemembers, civilians and family members, to work a concession stand during Omaha Storm Chasers games - the local Triple-A minor league baseball team - to help raise money for Habitat for Humanity.

In all, Chief DeJong’s team of volunteers raised more than $1,700. Volunteers from JFCC-GS were later recognized by Bill Swick, treasurer for Habitat for Humanity of Sarpy County, who presented them with a certificate of appreciation.

In addition to Chief DeJong, other USSTRATCOM members have found other ways to contribute. Airman 1st Class Lindsey Rath, all source intelligence analyst, Intelligence Directorate, volunteers her time toward Meals-On-Wheels, a non-profit organization that delivers hot, home-cooked meals to the elderly.

“I decided on Meals-On-Wheels because I really liked the idea of being able to go and help elderly folks,” Airman Rath said. “It’s important to find time to volunteer because every little thing a person can do to help another person makes a difference. Just by engaging in one small activity means you could slowly be changing another persons' life. ”

Airman Rath also said volunteering shouldn’t feel like a job.

“Volunteering shouldn't be a task, it should be something you enjoy doing by helping other people and making a difference,” she said. “I would tell other enlisted members about all the different opportunities that are around for them to volunteer for, and how they will not only have fun, but be able to help another person. ”

For the members of USSTRATCOM and Offutt community who want to donate their time and skills but don’t know where to start, they should look no further than the Airman and Family Readiness Center.

“We have a mailing list for our monthly volunteer opportunities, which is also listed on our Facebook page and the A&FRC web site. I also send the list to first sergeants,” said Gail Mays, information and referral technician for the A&FRC. “Anyone on or off base in the local community can submit a volunteer opportunity, but I don’t consider listing anything that involves money or asks for money. ” 

Mays said military members should seek opportunities to help out when they can.

“To get a sense of belonging to the community, it’s important for servicemembers to get involved by volunteering,” she said. “There are many volunteer opportunities available. ”

She added that Offutt personnel can get involved by taking part in the Volunteer Advisory Committee by contacting the A&FRC at 294-4329.