News: Soldiers reap benefits of volunteering
Story by Spc. Elayseah Woodard-Hinton
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - When the time and opportunity present themselves, soldiers from 308th Brigade Support Battalion, 17th Fires Brigade, donate their time helping the staff at the Tumwater Boys and Girls Club with events, repairs, cleaning and any other tasks that need doing.
A group of soldiers from 308th Brigade Support Battalion spent the afternoon of April 26 participating in a unique set of soldiering tasks that included face painting, applying removable tattoos and bouncing in an inflatable house.
The afternoon of childish fun was part of an event held at the Boys and Girls Club of Tumwater, Wash., where the soldiers volunteered their time with the club’s children. The volunteer program is part of the brigade’s initiative to stay connected with the communities surrounding Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
When the time and opportunity present themselves, soldiers from 308th BSB donate their time helping the staff at the Tumwater Boys and Girls Club with events, repairs, cleaning and any other tasks that need doing.
“The Kids really enjoy when the group comes down,” said Monica Langford, director, Tumwater Branch Boys and Girls Club. “308th has been really committed to our program. It has been great to have that partnership and we really appreciate everyone.”
Because of missions, training and duty station changes, it can be difficult for soldiers to volunteer on a consistent basis. In order to keep the momentum of the program going, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tera Lawrence, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 308th BSB, has taken on the task of promoting the program and rallying soldiers to volunteer.
“You’d be surprised at how many soldiers want to volunteer because they were involved in the club as kids or wish they had one growing up,” said Lawrence.
Spc. Melissa Brown, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 308th BSB. Brown volunteers at the club on a regular basis and said she wishes she knew about the Boys and Girls club, which has facilities nationwide, while growing up in Sacramento, Calif.
It wasn’t until Brown’s pre-teen years that she was able to find an outlet through her church’s youth group to help her deal with some of the difficulties she faced at home; and through her personal experiences she learned the importance of volunteering.
“Volunteering fulfills a need for mankind to help others,” said Brown. “We live in a world of need, and when you can take your eyes off your own needs to help someone else, you help them and you fulfill a need on the inside.”
The task of seeking out soldiers to help at the club is more than just an extra responsibility for Lawrence. To her it is an undertaking that goes hand-in-hand with her own personal mission.
“I think it’s important to do for others,” said Lawrence. “I’ve always volunteered wherever I’ve been stationed. My family and I do Habitat for Humanity and soup kitchens, we always try to give back to the community.”
The Columbus, Ga., native said that although her upbringing was pretty good, she learned at an early age that life can be complicated and there are many people, including children who deal with adversity.
Lawrence said that while growing up, her parent’s home was often viewed as a safe haven to many of her friends and neighborhood kids. Because of this, she often heard the stories of alcoholism and abuse that took place in those homes.
These stories have stayed with Lawrence through her military career and are part of the reason she believes in the good of community service.
“I think just being at the club makes a difference and gives the kids something to look forward to,” said Lawrence. “They love when we come play with them and many of the kids thank us for our service.”
The time spent at the club has been a positive experience for both the children and the soldiers involved.
For Pfc. Kimberly Pandy, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 308th BSB, volunteering has shown her that playing with the children or helping with tasks at the club, builds camaraderie with fellow soldiers in a way that is not typical to the usual mission or training event.
“I’m kind of shy with new people,” said Pandy a native of Chicago. “Volunteering at the club is just like playing with my little sister and reminds me of home. It’s a place for kids and soldiers to have fun and a chance to interact with co-workers in a different way.”