2018-11-02 / Front Page

A TIME TO SERVE

Need for volunteers rises during holidays
Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Dayana Fuentes-Martinez, of Fort Gordon, signs up to receive information about volunteer opportunities with the Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre during the Fall Volunteer Harvest Oct. 26. Michelle Blake, stage director, and Danny Posey, entertainment director, were on hand to answer questions. Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Dayana Fuentes-Martinez, of Fort Gordon, signs up to receive information about volunteer opportunities with the Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre during the Fall Volunteer Harvest Oct. 26. Michelle Blake, stage director, and Danny Posey, entertainment director, were on hand to answer questions. Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office This holiday season is approaching, and while many view it as a time for giving, it is also a time when many needs go unmet.

Fort Gordon Army Community Service hosted its Fall Volunteer Harvest on Oct. 26 at the Command Support Center.

Set up similar to a job fair, the event was intended to connect prospective volunteers with representatives from programs in need of volunteers – especially during the holiday season, when the need increases and finding people to commit is an added challenge.

“As people are getting ready for the holidays and block leave, they’re not thinking about volunteering,” said Lynn Harshman, Army Volunteer Corps coordinator. “We wanted to give these programs the opportunity to let the community know that they’re here, and this is the impact you could make not only on the community, but on yourself at the same time.”

Fort Gordon has 204 programs that incorporate volunteers.

The American Red Cross, Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre, Fort Gordon Run Series, and Fort Gordon Community Garden are some of the programs that participated in the fair that need more manpower during the holiday season.

Air Force spouse Cristina Petre, of Grovetown, has worked about 1,500 hours as a Fort Gordon volunteer.

A native of Romania, Petre moved to the United States in October 2017 and was unable to work because she had just applied for her green card.

Feeling isolated and useless, she decided to pour time and energy into volunteering with the Exceptional Family Member Program along with the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

“It was the best decision I could have made, because I found it has helped me so much to find myself to feel useful and to feel like I do have a purpose,” Petre said.

Now a faithful ACS volunteer, Petre also serves on her husband’s unit key spouse program.

And although she is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her green card so she can work full time , Petre said she plans to continue volunteering.

“It’s a win-win situation, because as volunteers, we do help, and we are also helped in return,” she said. “It’s a great selfless endeavor.”

The fair was also an opportunity for volunteers to ask questions and learn about the importance of registering in the Volunteer Management Information System (VMIS). The online portal assists the Army Volunteer Corps with managing volunteer programs.

Harshman said it is imperative that volunteers register for VMIS.

“One, the Department of Defense requires it if you volunteer on a federal installation,” Harshman said. “And if you’re an active duty Servicemember, a lot of it has to do with liability.”

VMIS allows volunteers to track their hours, awards, trainings and certificates; all of which can be useful information to have when applying for employment or higher education. Another important reason to use VMIS is that proof of volunteer hours can result in additional funding for programs – not only on Fort Gordon, but also off the installation.

“The public affairs office here – Anne Bowman does a fabulous job with receiving all of the requests from our surrounding civilian community for Servicemember support,” Harshman said.

VMIS only lists programs that are on post, but volunteers can and should log volunteer hours spent off post in VMIS.

“As you PCS to the next duty station, all you have to do is update your profile and change your military community so then those people there can certify your hours and you can see what vacancies are there,” Harshman said.

To get started in VMIS, go to the Army OneSource website at: www.myarmyonesource.com, click on the “Register” link at the top right of the page, and follow subsequent instructions.

“You can find anything, no matter what your profile is,” Petre said. “You learn a lot, you get to help others ... as volunteers, we often end up getting as much from the experience as (the program).”

Anyone who needs assistance may contact Harshman at lynn.c.harshman.civ@mail.mil or (706)791-3880.

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