Volunteers deserve our appreciation
David W. Kuhns Sr. | Northwest Guardian | Published: 02:58PM May 15th, 2008
One of the great wonders about the Army is the level of volunteer spirit.
There is almost no aspect of life on Fort Lewis that is not touched, positively, by volunteers.
Next week is devoted to volunteer recognition on post. At a luncheon, several volunteers will be singled out and a volunteer of the year will be named. The recognition will be much deserved. But those who will be honored are not really unique.
It wouldn’t take much of an investigation to list ways that volunteers affect our lives — ways seldom seen in the civilian communities around us.
Whether you are a Soldier, a Family member or a retiree, you probably receive health care at Madigan Army Medical Center or one of its satellite clinics. Chances are, the first person you see when you come through the door is a volunteer. Volunteers are all through the hospital. Some are even qualified health-care workers who provide, out of the goodness of their hearts, the services they performed prior to retirement.
Teachers in surrounding communities often lament the lack of help they have, their inability to provide all the individualized attention they would like to give their students. Well, on post, virtually every classroom has multiple volunteers. These unpaid teachers’ aides do everything from coaching and mentoring students to decorating bulletin boards. They free teachers to better teach — and our children are the beneficiaries of an improved education.
Family readiness groups have become a vital resource to help Soldiers and families get through the rough parts of frequent deployments and separations. They celebrate Soldiers when they leave; they greet them when they return; they send the morale-boosting gifts while they are gone; and they look out for other families who are left behind. And all of that work is by unpaid volunteers.
Soldiers do more than their fair share, too. Through the year, youth sports teams teach children athletic skills, teamwork, sportsmanship, discipline and responsibility. Who are the adults passing on these important values?
Often they are Soldiers.
Soldiers even take their volunteer spirit out into the surrounding communities. For years, Soldier volunteers have helped our civilian partners with everything from cleaning up sidewalks to painting houses.
Every spring, dozens of volunteers make the Washington Special Olympics possible. They keep track of results and they congratulate athletes for competing. They do all that for the sense of satisfaction they get and the joy they can pass along.
Every day hundreds of volunteers contribute to our community. So, when a few volunteers are singled out, they represent not just a few who did something remarkable. They will be special examples of a culture of volunteering that permeates our community.