|Sgt. Maj. Dallman SHAREs volunteer spirit
Source: Quentin Melson
Saturday morning is the time that most people use to relax and recuperate from the stresses of the workweek. Kids are watching cartoons and parents are drinking coffee and watching the Today Show. Everyone relaxes on Saturday mornings. Everyone except for a small but dedicated group of Fort Belvoir area residents who get together once a month and use Saturday morning to volunteer their time and services to better the community and help needy families. Sgt. Maj. Alice Dallman has been literally been the driving force of Fort Belvoir’s volunteer efforts with the SHARE organization for the past eight years.
“She is always the hardest working person in the room,” said Ed Beaver, a fellow SHARE volunteer. “She knows all of the difficult work that we have to do, recognizes that it has to be done and does it herself. She gets up at O-dark-30 in the morning to drive the truck and then works the rest of the morning. There isn’t anyone here who doesn’t hold her with great respect and great affection. She’s an inspiration to everyone in the room. I have given her a lot of superlatives, but she deserves every one of them. Probably more.”
Alice Dallman transports groceries from a warehouse in Washington, D.C., to the Fort Belvoir United Services Organization office one Saturday a month for the SHARE organization. When Dallman finishes loading up her truck at the warehouse, she reaches the Fort Belvoir USO office at around 7:30. She is usually greeted by Linda Ricks, Fort Belvoir USO outreach program coordinator.
“SHARE stands for Self Help and Resource Exchange,” said Ricks. “For sixteen dollars and two volunteer hours, you can get 32 dollars worth of food. Any one can participate in the program. It doesn’t go by rank or income. Active Duty, Reservists, retirees, DoD, civilians can all participate in the program. It doesn’t go by rank or income. You can get as many packages as you want as long as you’ve met the monetary and volunteer criteria. Volunteer hours can be anything that you do that you don’t get paid for. If you watch your neighbor’s dog, if you watch your neighbor’s kids, anything that you don’t get paid counts.”
Once the required two hours of volunteer work have been completed and the ticket has been paid for, a package of food can be picked up at the Fort Belvoir USO office once every Saturday morning.
“When you come in and pay you, get a receipt,” said Ricks. “On your receipt is a spot where you have to have your volunteer hours signed off. Then you bring it to the pick up site to pick up your food every month.”
Although the SHARE program is inexpensive and open to anyone in need, not enough people are participating in the program.
“Our numbers are low,” said Ricks. “We don’t make any money off of this. We’re just trying to get the numbers up so we can pay for gas and to pay for a U-Haul.”
According to Ricks, the benefits of the program are many.
“One it helps the families cut down on their grocery bill,” Ricks. There are a lot of families out here that could use the help. It helps organizations like the USO and ACS and the Red Cross. It helps give volunteer hours to the community to help staff places that don’t have the financial means to keep running. Whether you live in a high cost area or not, it could be beneficial. If you could save money, why wouldn’t you?”
People volunteer for the SHARE organization for many different reasons. For Dallman, her interest in the program was piqued by a family member.
“My sister used to volunteer for SHARE,” said Dallman. “The first day that I volunteered for SHARE, we didn’t’ have a truck driver for the following month. He decided that he wasn’t going to drive anymore, so I volunteered to be the truck driver. That was in ‘98. August of ‘98 to be exact.”
Dallman mentioned camaraderie she experiences with other Fort Belvoir volunteers as on of the reasons why she’s been involved in the SHARE program for so long.
“I enjoy doing this,” said Dallman. “I could drive the truck and leave the site but I don’t do that. I like to stay and have camaraderie with the people. I have known them for almost ten years now.”
At 9 a.m., packages of food are given out to participants of the SHARE program in front of the Fort Belvoir USO office on designated Saturdays. The value of each package of food that is given out each Saturday is what makes it all worthwhile for Dallman.
“These are value packages,” said Dallman. “Because you get forty dollars worth of groceries for sixteen dollars and two volunteer hours. If you are a single parent or you are a couple with two, three or four kids, it’s an opportunity to stretch through the month. If you’re a single soldier and you don’t need the package, but you have friends that may need he package, it’s a way for you to help your friends. Even if you are not in need, but you know somebody that may be in need, whether it’s an elderly person, whether it’s a retiree, or whether it’s a single parent, we all know someone in the military like that. It’s an opportunity for you to do two hours of volunteer work, purchase a packet and pass it on.”
By 10 a.m., when most of the world is just getting up, Dallman has already completed a day’s worth of work. She personifies the old saying that a Soldier does more before six in the morning then most people do in a day.