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The volunteer spirit!

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Hornitschek
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Commander
There are many things that make our nation great, and one of them is the volunteer spirit that can be found in any community, especially right here at Scott AFB!

As a military, we have the opportunity to assist with coordinating humanitarian relief efforts such as the recent work to deliver aid to the Japanese people, but our own personal efforts for those both near and far extend beyond the mission taskings that flow to us.

I see it every day as I attend functions such as the USO Salute to Heroes--where many of the nominated Servicemembers were recognized for their extensive volunteer work--as well as when I see us answer a call for assistance to march in a parade or help with a city's cleanup efforts ... our team responds enthusiastically.

And, one thing is for certain, we never run out of opportunities to serve as there are numerous ways in which we can volunteer our time and resources to those around us. My Public Affairs staff serves as just one avenue for filtering requests that come through community members. They ensure the request meets participation criteria and then work with our first sergeants and chiefs throughout the base to offer these opportunities to our servicemembers, civilians, family members, etc.

Right now, for example, they are working on filling requests for speaking engagements for the upcoming Memorial Day observance and for career days at local schools.

Sometimes people are needed to participate in activities that pair up uniformed members with retirees or disabled veterans such as the upcoming golf tournament sponsored by the Veterans Affairs department. Whether it's judging a speech contest or sharing recent deployment experiences, I appreciate how Team Scott pitches in and supports these efforts.

There are, however, untold numbers of other worthy causes and projects that you are involved with, whether it's formally organized or through your own personal interest and effort. Many of you coach youth sports or serve as leaders in scouting and church organizations. You give of your time and talents to quilt or bake goods for the elderly and less fortunate. You volunteer your time to sort through donations given to our Airman's Attic and Thrift Shop, both services that help our junior enlisted members.

I know there are many of you who even spend thousands of your own money each year to support a cause. You give to encourage excellence and to help others reach their potential through scholarships and foundations. You give to relieve human suffering and to preserve institutions that support these efforts. You give to help create tolerance, understanding and peace among us and also to remember our fallen. However, not all volunteer work has to be done outside the fence. Service can be performed within our own work centers and even within our own families.

For instance, the NCO who organizes a self-help improvement project for his office has that volunteer spirit and initiative to make things better and it directly impacts those he works with. We can foster volunteerism within our own homes with our children teaching them to clean their rooms, set the table for dinner, or do the dishes without being told. Involving them in sorting through clothes that don't fit to give to charity, having them help shovel a driveway for a neighbor (hopefully we're done with that this year!) or bake cookies for someone who has just moved in down the street are other ways we instill the value of caring for others--isn't that really what volunteering is all about? When we do that for each other, it creates good will and the idea to "pay it forward." Through our connection we demonstrate that we care about each other, and in the process we build a more resilient community.

Anne Frank said, "How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." I see that all around Team Scott, and I applaud you for your personal investments that make our base and community a better place to live and work. Ordinary people are doing extraordinary things for our pets, children, community development, and environmental causes, in our healthcare world and for those who are struggling to make ends meet. Together, we can make a difference!