Volunteers provide backbone for Army Community Service
By Alex McVeigh | Pentagram Staff Writer | Thursday, April 24, 2008
There is a certain type of exemplary person at Fort Myer. In fact, there are over 1,000 of these people in 26 different organizations, and they do their work for free.
These people are volunteers in the Fort Myer Military Community, and they provide support for many of the installation’s organizations. Volunteers on post have donated a combined 74,661 hours of labor since April 2007.
Dr. Shirley Urquia has been volunteering in the Fort Myer Thrift Shop for the past 10 years. ‘‘I was the assistant superintendant for Alexandria Schools. I found out that [the Thrift Store] offers $30,000 to $40,000 in scholarships each year, and it was something I wanted to be a part of,” she said.
‘‘Our volunteers come from all over,” said Regenia Grubbs, in the Administration, Mobilization and Deployment section of ACS. ‘‘Sometimes they’re spouses, retirees or civilians from the area.”
Volunteers work for such organizations as the Family Readiness Group, USO, the post library, Child and Youth Services, Arlington Ladies, the Retiree Council, the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program, the seasonal tax center and the National Defense University bookstore. There is also a regular group of retirees who make baby bundles for the children of Soldiers. They knit blankets, booties and anything else that a young child might need.
For Carla Moss, who works in ACS, volunteering is all in the Family. ‘‘My kids, Aysia and Andre are on the teen Army Family Action Plan board. My sister Katrina volunteers for Deployed Family Fun Day and I went on the Disabled Veterans Cruise.”
The FMMC offers volunteering opportunities that cater to all interests. The Volunteer Management Information System allows interested parties to check available opportunities at posts all over the country. The VMIS is accessible on the Web site at www.myarmylifetoo.com.
Volunteers benefit from their work too. ‘‘People [who volunteer] get to know others around the community and they can get valuable job experience which can go on their resume,” Grubbs said.
Jerrel Catlett worked as a civilian at Fort Myer until his retirement in 2002. Even though he’s no longer on the payroll, he’s been volunteering at ACS ever since.
‘‘I enjoy working with the clientele and co-workers,” he said. ‘‘I also try to encourage younger people who are unemployed to volunteer since it gives them valuable work experience.”
The nature of the military Family requires relocation, and a volunteer network provides some measure of stability.
It also allows installations like Fort Myer to find out what processes are working around the country.
‘‘With families shifting from base to base, it brings us different perspectives about what we’re doing and what we can do,” Grubbs said.