Janet Henderson, Fort Lewis Volunteer of the Month for September, said one thing she loves about her volunteer work is that it puts the world at her fingertips.
“The Thrift Shop gets items from all over the world,” she said. “Soldiers shop in different countries, and many of the items they purchase overseas end up on the shelves of our store. I’m constantly seeing items that I’ve never seen before, so each day is new and different. I never know what I’m going to see next.”
Henderson and her husband, retired Chief Warrant Officer Floyd Henderson, who now works on post for General Dynamics, have two adult children — a son and a daughter.
During their 29 years of Army life, the Hendersons had three different tours in Germany (Wiesbaden, Hanau and Fulda), and she kept very busy with her children.
After her husband retired from the Army and they became empty nesters, Henderson said she needed something to fill her time. That’s when a former Thrift Shop volunteer asked her to volunteer at the Thrift Shop, and she’s been there ever since. Henderson has now been at the shop for two-and-a-half years.
“I love working here as a volunteer,” she said. “I love meeting and helping the customers, and I love the interaction I have with all of the other volunteers and store employees. I get along with everybody.”
Henderson volunteers about 80 hours per month —five hours or more on the days the store is open, including the first Saturday of the month.
“Her job is imperative,” said Patty Bellinger, volunteer coordinator at the shop. “If we don’t get all of our new items out on the floor in a timely manner, we could lose some of our customers. Janet (Henderson) does a fabulous job of getting them on the floor as quickly as possible. She works harder as a volunteer than some people would if they were paid to do her job.”
Additionally, Bellinger said Henderson always comes to work happy — with a smile on her face, and a lot of enthusiasm.
“She’s a friendly face that customers always see here, so they often go to her for help,” Bellinger said. “She knows where specific items are located, and she knows the Army jargon and proper titles of respect. Our customers really like that.”
Keeping the Thrift Shop customers happy, however, is really very easy, Henderson said.
“When people find a great bargain, they can’t help but get into a good mood, and the majority of our customers are really nice and polite,” she said. “The most difficult part of my job is keeping up with the needs of the shop when we are so shorthanded. We really need more volunteers.”
That’s why Linda M. Walker, manager of the Thrift Shop, is so thankful for the volunteer help that Henderson provides.
“I don’t know what we’d do without her,” Walker said. “She’s upbeat, dependable, reliable, a joy to be around and she’s an absolutely fantastic volunteer. I’m grateful that she got chosen as the Fort Lewis Volunteer of the Month because she really deserves it.”