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This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs at the military level, including information for all branches of the armed services.

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~ April 2005~ Topics
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Doing Your Part One Bit at a Time

"If only I had a few more hours in the day"… – how many times do we say that? Many of us work long hours at our job and then go home to take care of our family, meals, laundry, car, bills, yard, etc. How do we find time to "volunteer" when our limited "free time" is so precious? The first piece of advice is probably the simplest – choose carefully. Look for an opportunity to volunteer that maximizes your contribution, is personally fulfilling, and offers you some flexibility in your tight schedule.

Those of us who work for the military are very lucky in that we have numerous volunteer opportunities at our office doors, are encouraged to participate, allowed time off in many cases, and are often praised for our efforts. In any given week, organizations on every post or base will be conducting a blood drive for the American Red Cross, reading to children at the base library, or washing cars to raise money for a holiday party. There are many opportunities to fulfill a volunteer need while also doing our jobs – serving as a member of the local civilian-military support group, acting as a board member of the Chambers of Commerce military affairs committee, or providing food for a welcome-back dinner for our deployed troops. Our professionals -- engineers, scientists, pilots to name a few -- can take volunteer board positions with their professional organizations or can speak to local high school classes on their areas of expertise. Many of us have the added benefit of being able to request a flexible work schedule, giving us a weekday off during which to schedule volunteer activities.

A wanta-be-volunteer who works fulltime can look for episodic volunteer opportunities, checking guests in at a special event or fundraiser, making visits to homebound neighbors, or tutoring English-as-a-second-language on the weekend. One of the most popular and most giving volunteer activities at any military installation is Toys for Tots – a project-based opportunity that gives everyone a chance to spend a little time helping others during the holidays. If nothing else, for those of us who love to shop, especially at that time of year, it's a value-added opportunity to add a fun toy to our list, re-live some great childhood memory when you're purchasing those Lincoln logs, and put a smile on a child's face – all the while "volunteering"!

The bottom-line for those of us who work fulltime is simply "something is better than nothing at all." And, point of fact, most of you are already volunteering, whether you call it that or not – driving the neighborhood children to a soccer game, donating used books to the church's book drive, allowing the kids to get paint on the garage floor as they design sets for the school play. Doing your part, one "bit" at a time.

Judy Morrow is an analyst and writer, employed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. She has more than 25 years of volunteer experience and 5 years experience as Installation Volunteer Coordinator and Relocation Assistance Manager. She also does consulting, writing and workshop presentations. To contact Judy, email her at: Judy.Morrow@edwards.af.mil.

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