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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Why Bother to Volunteer?

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why Bother to Volunteer?

I brought up this topic yesterday. I realized in the last 12 years, my waking hours were many times volunteer hours. I volunteer with everything from my husband's unit Family Readiness Group (FRG) to the kids' school to church, Scouts and the community. People always know to call me when something needs to get done....and all without earning a red cent! Does that bother me? Why do I do it? I'll attempt to explain my reasoning.

Growing up, I had visions of my mom in a Red Cross uniform, volunteering her time. She didn't have an official job that paid her money while she was an Army wife and mom. She thought it was more important to focus on us, the children and raising us the way she wanted us raised. I honestly believe that no daycare provider can substitute that. She did these volunteer things because they kept her busy when she wasn't dealing with us, plus it gave her the flexibility to do what and when she wanted. She enjoyed being around people and learning new things and volunteering made her feel good. I find I am volunteering for some of the exact same reasons.

I volunteer because:

  • I can choose when and how much. If I decide to take a shopping trip to the outlet malls one day, I go ahead and do that. Volunteering does not have the same commitment level as a job. I can also say no if I absolutely don't want to do something.
  • I can try new things without being pressured to perform. I've learned how to work a printing press, camped in beautiful locations, met powerful people and celebrities, worked other expensive equipment, driven antique vehicles, farmed, led meetings, given speeches, worn silly outfits, been on TV and radio and in the process, I've gotten lots and lots of free goodies..... all without the pressure of having to do it. I never would've done these things on my own!
  • It's fun and keeps me busy, and I am helping getting things done. This is the most important reason I volunteer. I've met some of my best friends through volunteering! It feels good to be doing something and helping others. I think that's just human nature coming through. As an added bonus, when my husband deploys, I am so busy, I don't have time to wallow in my pity and think about him not being there.
  • The awards, ceremonies, luncheons and dinners. This is also not why I volunteer, but just an added bonus, like the Tootsie roll in the middle of a Tootsie Pop. It also makes you feel special to be awarded, especially in front of a large group. Where else could you ever be deemed the guest of honor? I once had the Secretary of State and his wife come up to me, shake my hand and sincerely thank me for my service. You certainly won't get this kind of recognition in your job unless you are some kind of high-powered CEO! It's also nice to get free food...gosh I am so food oriented....and again, meet new people or connect with your friends who also volunteer.
  • I can use it on my job resume. The Army makes it even easier now. If you sign up under their Volunteer Management Information System, you can find volunteer positions in your area, apply for them and then track your volunteer hours. These positions and volunteers hours can even be printed off later, on a Department of Army form, to use on your resume and in your job interviews, should you decide to apply for a money-making job. I used mine, and I think it's great the way it outlines your positions, duties and responsibilities, just like a job. I think it's great that the Army is starting to look at volunteer work as almost equal to paid work. Good for them....and for you. I'll be sure to discuss this in depth at a later date, so stay tuned.
  • Trips and tours. I can't tell you the countless free local trips and outings I've been privy to as a volunteer. We have a volunteer in our unit going to a one week paid seminar next week in Orlando Florida, all at government expense. These types of things come up often and only for volunteers a lot of the time. Another added bonus, sometimes the training costs thousands of dollars (so, typically not something you would pay for on your own) and can be something you can later put on your resume.
  • Your brain is forced to stay active. You know if you don't use your brain cells regularly, they die. It's as simple as that...don't dumb yourself down by staying at home and staring at the wall. I think that's why I have a few friends who are constantly taking online courses or local university stay sharp and smart, not just for their resume! I've learned so many new skill sets volunteering, and I honestly believe it's made me a better and more confident person...that's all good, isn't it?
I thought I'd ask here, do you volunteer? If so, why do you do it? I'm also curious. If you don't volunteer, would you like to share that as well? We are all in learning mode here and would love everyone's input:-))

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Blogger Linda said...

I do volunteer. I serve on the OCSC board, am the treasurer for our coffee group, am the advisor for our unit FRG. I also volunteer in non-military positions, as the creative activities director for MOPS, as well as on the Women's ministry team and the Worship team at church. I also occasionally do baking for welcomes and funerals at church as well. I'm always available to help when and where I can.

I do it simply because I can. There are others who can not and that is fully understandable. I like much of what I do...some things, though, started out as helping and ended up as "stuck". I guess there's grace in moving, because it's an "easy out" of things you don't want to do yet feel an obligation to (none of those feelings stem from church groups, but from the constant state of change of our military groups). And aside from OCSC, I don't track my volunteer hours, though I suppose I should.

September 23, 2008 at 8:28 PM  
Anonymous kirsten said...

I volunteer at my kids' school-doing everything from leading outdoor learning or art appreciation lessons in their classrooms, making copies of PTA flyers or teacher preps, or shelving books in the library.

I do it for many reasons-gives me something to do now that both are in school full time (I have no desire to go after a career just to up and move or try and finagle hours that work around their schedule since I cannot count on a spouse being home), lets me directly affect their education, lets me do something I enjoy, and gives me the opportunity to spend time with like-minded adults.

Last year the volunteering worked into a part-time job at their school. Perhaps it will happen again this year, we'll see.

September 24, 2008 at 4:54 AM  
Blogger dyceedo said...

I love volunteering. My friends in Baumholder referred to me as "the FRG nerd" b/c I spent so much time w/our FRG. I think it all started while watching my Mom volunteer w/Junior League when I was in elementary. She did all kinds of stuff and seemed to really enjoy it. I absolutely agree w/your statement that you learn NEW things while volunteering - you never know what you're getting into, but it's all good in the end!

October 1, 2008 at 1:10 AM  

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