By Heather Kline
Community service and volunteer work are strong bullets to add to one’s resume. This is especially true if you don’t have a paid position. Individuals give back to their communities by spending a few hours a day, week or month volunteering to do what interests them.
Rhonda Hutsell, Fort Leonard Wood volunteer coordinator, knows what it means to serve. She has worked for the military for almost 30 years and knows the true value of a volunteer.
“Volunteerism contributes to community cohesion, increasing self-reliance and enhancing the well-being of our service members and their families,” Hutsell said. “Volunteers contribute their time, energy and skills in nearly every agency and organization which support service members and their families, whether on the installation or in the local communities.”
Hutsell said volunteers come from many different backgrounds with various life experiences yet they all have one thing in common.
“You all share the willingness to give your time and talent to help others,” she said. “I am humbled and thankful by your generosity of spirit and your compassion for your fellow human beings. It is all of you who so generously give your time, warmth, humor, talent and caring. It is all of you, doing what you do, that takes my breath away. That is why I am thankful for each volunteer.”
Hutsell said a few of the many benefits of volunteering include feeling like you’re making a difference, being productive, gaining self-confidence, learning new skills, refining experience for future paid positions, helping to build bonds and strengthening communities.
USO volunteer Ralph Reid said volunteering affords him the opportunity to share his experiences with current Soldiers.
“Volunteering with the USO gives me something meaningful to do, and I love every minute of it. I enjoy talking and interacting with the next generation of Soldiers,” Reid said. “I share stories from my Army service and enlighten them on how different it is now. It makes me feel good inside, and I like to pay it forward.”
Sheri Wright, another USO volunteer, sees volunteering as an opportunity to give back to an organization that helps Soldiers like her husband.
“When he was deployed overseas he could go to the USO and use computers, watch a movie, or pet a dog when he missed his own. It was a piece of home away from home,” Wright said.
Phyllis Snyder volunteers at the Fort Leonard Wood Tax Center and takes pride in assisting the Soldiers of Fort Leonard Wood by helping them understand the tax processes.
“I feel a sense of satisfaction when helping the young Soldiers’ with their taxes, and I like to educate them on how important it is to understand their taxes,” she said. “I go line by line and answer their questions thoroughly. I like to take a Soldier under my wing and facilitate a skill they will have for life.”
Sherry Hopkins, another Tax Center volunteer said, “I really like helping service members to get their taxes done on time. This is a way of giving back to my military community. Volunteering makes me feel good and I get great satisfaction from helping others. I like to see the smiles on Soldiers faces once they know their taxes have been filed for the year. I feel less lonely when I’m volunteering and, I get to meet interesting people.”
Amanda Sullivan volunteers for the Public Affairs Office where she enjoys writing blogs and stories while helping to tell the Army story.
“Volunteering not only provides me with professional experience, but also a sense of fulfillment and pride when helping the families and Soldiers of Fort Leonard Wood,” Sullivan said.
For information on current volunteer opportunities, contact Hutsell at 573.596.0212 ext. 64334.