Volunteer enjoys hearing veterans share their
real life stories
Fort Lewis Guardian - September 18th, 2008
By Barbara L. Sellers, Northwest Guardian
If anyone enjoys military history, the Fort Lewis Military Museum might be a good place to volunteer.
Just ask Syndee Meacham, the Fort Lewis Volunteer of the Month for September. The first time she visited the museum, she found it so interesting that she decided to come back on a regular basis to work as a cashier in The Cannon Shop.
“I started talking with Marion Ball about how the Army has changed,” said Meacham, who once planned to be a history major. “I found her to be so interesting. A lot of the veterans come in here and talk about their real-life experiences, and I find them to be very interesting, too.”
Meacham and her spouse of 25 years, Col. Jimmy Meacham, I Corps Special Troops Battalion, have two sons — Nathan, 23, and Drew, 19, who are both attending school in Alabama. Before getting married, Meacham completed two years of studies at Wallace Community College, in Dothan, Ala.
The Meacham family has been stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala., four times (10 years), Germany twice (seven years), and Fort Hood, Texas (four years). This is the first time they have been stationed at Fort Lewis.
Besides volunteering four hours per week at the museum, Meacham serves as the first vice president of the Officer Spouses Club, and representative for her family readiness group.
“I very much enjoy meeting and interacting with new people,” Meacham said. “I like giving back to a community that has been so good to us. It’s also a wonderful way to get to know people.”
Meacham came to The Cannon Shop with a lot of cash register experience, but volunteers who never operated a cash register can be trained in and learn a new skill, she said.
Greg Hagge, collections manager and acting museum director, said he’s always looking for more volunteers with good people skills to work in the gift shop.
“Syndee (Meacham) is entertaining to talk to, outgoing, very approachable and humble,” he said. “But we are very happy to have all of our volunteers.”
Meacham has pretty much been volunteering throughout her husband’s military career. When her sons were younger, she helped out a lot at school, she said.
But her most challenging and most rewarding volunteer experience was helping to build a neighborhood playground out of wood about 16 years ago in Ozark, Ala. It was challenging because it was something she had never done before, and it was rewarding because she got to see it after it was completed.
“We had about one week to build this playground, called Kid Zone,” Meacham said. “I was the person in charge of the sanding crew to finish the wood so the children would not get splinters. A lot of the times volunteers don’t get to have that immediate gratification that you get when you see something finished.”
Meacham said that playground has been well maintained because it’s still there and looks new. “It’s a joy to see children still using it,” she said.
With the number of volunteer opportunities available on post, just about everybody could volunteer to do something, Meacham said.
Caption: Syndee Meacham, Fort Lewis Volunteer of the Month for September, talks with Sgt. Evin Carter, 2-1 Inf., while working in The Cannon Shop at the Fort Lewis Military Museum.