As a military family on the move, you often have to leave behind a community you have come to call home. But, moving also provides the opportunity to become part of a new community - and the chance to coach the baseball team, help at school or volunteer at the local farmers market. For military service members and their families, volunteering comes naturally. It's also is a great way to give back to the community.
Benefits of volunteering in your new community
Once you've had the chance to settle in at home, it may be time to think about getting to know your new community. The beauty of volunteering is that you can work around your schedule and your interests. Here are some other ways you'll benefit from volunteering in your new community:
- Meeting new people - Volunteer work offers an opportunity to meet people in your new hometown.
- Gaining personal satisfaction - Research shows that learning something new and being of service to others are key elements to happiness. Volunteer work can bring both of those elements into your life.
- Being a part of the community - Your new community will feel like home more quickly as you become involved.
Learning new skills - Volunteer work can help you develop new skills, while keeping your old ones current. The experience you gain as a volunteer often translates into new self-confidence. And, if you're interested in finding paid employment down the road, volunteering can help you build a network and skills that could potentially lead to a job.
Resources for finding volunteer opportunities
When you're new in town, putting yourself out there to look for ways to volunteer can be a challenge. It helps to be proactive in searching for something that suits your interests, goals and circumstances. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you identify volunteer opportunities, including these:
- Installation resources - The military and family support center on your new installation is a great place to start. Many centers have volunteer coordinators who maintain lists of volunteer opportunities both on and off their installations. The installation newspaper or website may offer more leads. You may also find volunteer opportunities highlighted at events welcoming newcomers to the installation.
- Online resources - Search for volunteer opportunities through your service's family support websites. Also, you may want to search websites that help connect volunteers with organizations that fit their needs.
- Traditional volunteer organizations - You may find your niche with an organization that is traditionally associated with volunteering. These include the American Red Cross, animal shelters, the YMCA, local schools, libraries or the Girl Scouts.
- Military spouse organizations - Serving as a mentor for new military spouses can help you make a positive impact and serve the military community. It's another great way to meet new people. Keep in mind that some military spouse organizations offer mentor training.
- Civilian community organizations - The local chamber of commerce and local community centers are places to start searching for volunteer opportunities within your community. You might think about volunteering your time teaching a class at the library. If you have a special talent, like music, you can volunteer your time to share those skills with others.
- Organizations near and dear to your heart - Search out organizations you feel strongly about. This engages your passion and can lead to a very meaningful experience. Many organizations were started by people who felt passionately about a need in their community.
- Outside-the-box opportunities - If you can't find exactly what you want, you may want to start your own volunteer program. Do you see a need in your community? What talents do you have that could benefit others?
Whether you like working with children or helping save the environment, there's a volunteer opportunity for you. Once you figure out where your interests lie, you can narrow your search and begin to reap the rewards of serving your new community. For more ideas and help finding opportunities on or around your new installation, visit Military OneSource or call 800-342-9647.