By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
When Ginny Goodman comes in for her shift as chair of volunteers in the NMCRS Pensacola office, likely as not she will be bringing a delicious meal for her volunteers to enjoy —“make-your-own tacos, baked potatoes and homemade soup are popular,” she explained. In addition to bringing home empty dishes, she might take home a pet dog belonging to one of her volunteers who is preparing to PCS or go on vacation. Wherever she is, Goodman is always thinking of ways to serve the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
Goodman moved from Texas to Pensacola, Florida five years ago to be a full-time grandma to her two grandchildren, now ages five and 10. “Both my grandkids are adopted from Russia,” Goodman explained. “I came here five times in 2010 to see my grandson,” she recalled. “Finally one day I said, ‘this is a 14-hour drive each way. Why don’t I move here? Two weeks after I moved here, they got a call from Russia to go meet their little girl. I want my grandkids to know me.”
Although her first husband was an Army dentist and Goodman worked on base when they lived in Korea, she didn’t know anything about the Navy when she started volunteering with the Society. “I like the environment and helping people. I’m always talking to people—even at the dog park I can tell when people are military members and I make sure they know we’re there to help them. If I see the wife is pregnant, I talk about the budget for baby class. I’m always looking to bring more people in and let people know about our services. It’s a great way for me to give back. I really like what I do.”
“Whenever I see something being done I think about how it could be done better or how I could make it more efficient. I’m a can–do person,” Goodman said. “I’m the second of seven children. My father passed away when I was 16. He was a can-do person and always did stuff around the house. I was always tagging along and learning how to use this tool or that thing. After he was gone, I got tired of asking people for help so I learned how to do everything myself. Guys come in my garage and say ‘you’ve got more power tools than I do.’”
Of course she applies this attitude to her work for the Society. When an office was closing down on base, Goodman snagged unwanted furniture and cut, sanded, and stained shelves to install in an armoire for the Society’s office. When she attended her first NMCRS Pensacola lunch-and-learn session, lunchmeat, cheese, and bread were offered for lunch. Having grown up cooking for a large immediate and extended family—including 53 first cousins on her mom’s side—Goodman knew how to go big with delicious meals. “When the area trainer came, I gathered some of the other volunteers who cook and we made great food. I like to try new recipes and cooking for the office staff gives me an opportunity to try things out since I live alone. Our volunteers are my guinea pigs.”
Goodman was recently commended by President of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, retired Admiral Steve Abbot for her superior volunteer service. She has received the Volunteer of the Quarter Award and earned Bronze and Gold U.S. Presidential Service Awards. Officially, Goodman has earned more than 4,000 volunteer hours, but the total is likely much higher when her culinary contributions, dog-sitting, and innovative thinking are included in the tally.