Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why I Volunteer

I have been non-stop for so long I haven't really blogged in a while (well a while for me since I'm usually good about putting up a blog or two a week). So I'm attempting to catch up.

Last week was Volunteer Appreciation week across the nation and our Military celebrated their volunteers too. I think most people know that I volunteer...a lot. I often volunteer more hours than people who work a full time job put in. But this post isn't about saying "look at me!".

I'm often asked why I don't work when I put in so many hours. Why don't I get paid for what I do, wouldn't that be better? The answer is NO!

Back when Kevin and I were both in the Army, dealing with leaving our kids behind often and being separated for months at a time, I knew that while I loved being a Soldier, I also loved being a mom. So I made the choice to leave Active Duty. It was a hard decision. Ever since I was 7 years old, all I had ever wanted to be was a Soldier. To give up that dream was one of the hardest things I'd ever done but I have not had regret. I simply had to find something that was just as rewarding. When I was in uniform I was often called "mama". Even when I was younger than those I served with, I was constantly mothering the Soldiers in my section.

Most of the agencies I serve with include Military Families. If I can't be a Soldier, I can do what I can to help Soldiers and their families and that's what I do. Recently I was offered a job and it was tempting but it did not fit into my personal mission statement which includes interacting with Military Families. Few people understood my choice to decline that position but the bottom line is that I am blessed to not HAVE to work and I won't settle for something that doesn't fit into my passion. There may come a time when I have to find a job and maybe I won't have the opportunity to work where I would love to but right now I'm not willing to compromise where I want to serve.

I have the privilege to help other Military Families become empowered. I can comfort someone by telling them it's normal to feel like you are riding a roller coaster of emotions. I can share with them my experiences and let them know they are not alone. I can smile at a Soldier and tell them that their new spouse will be okay. My husband and I can be an example that Military marriages do worth with a lot of effort.

Sometimes I don't even have to say anything at all, a simple nod of understanding, a touch of the hand to say we'll be here for you.

I love that I am able to still serve Soldiers and their Families AND my own family. I love that I can be home to hear all those wonderful school stories first hand. I love that I can support my husband when he needs it by dropping what I am doing to take him what he needs.

What better way to build a legacy of service then to set that example for our next generation. Already our boys love to serve and are always looking for a way to help another child.

So why do I volunteer and work with no pay? Because the relationships, experiences, the empowerment is worth more than any agency could ever pay me.

3 comments:

This American Wife said...

You rock! And kudos to you for realizing that the job you were offered didn't fit what you want to do! I don't know many people who are as dedicated to helping others as you and some of the other milspouses I've met. Thanks for being a shining example for so many other people out there!

Morgan -Ing said...

Volunteering to me shouts of your dedication to your work. Very few people would go to work if they didn't get paid. They don't love it enough. You are awesome. :)

Candace April said...

I found volunteering so essential--not only did I enjoy helping other military families, it also helped keep me sharp, helped connect me to the community and other like-minded family members, and helped pass the time during deployments, too.

If you blog about your volunteering, I hope you will check out another of my projects. In addition to Army Wives' Lives, I co-founded Bloganthropy.org...one of our projects was Valentine's for Vets and we hope to repeat that in 2012!