Featured Our Team — 21 April 2013

Sheffer-longIn this blog, BARB SHEFFER, Volunteer Program Director celebrates the Society’s 3,700 worldwide volunteers for National Volunteer Week.

I first learned about the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society in 1988 when I was a newly married Navy spouse at our first duty station in Newport, RI.  I didn’t have a military background and the language was foreign to me.

One day, while I was helping with a bake sale outside the commissary, I was told that the proceeds would be donated to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.  After asking what the Society was, a Society volunteer standing nearby reached out to me. “You need to come down and be with us and I’ll explain it all to you,” she said. She took the time to ask about me, show me around, and get me interested in the Society. I moved up to being responsible for the local NMCRS Office’s food locker and later took other volunteer leadership roles. You might say, I am where I am today because a Society volunteer reached out to a confused young military spouse and helped her find her way.

Our volunteers are like that – engaged and personal. They are the core of our existence – representing 93% of our workforce stationed worldwide and on ships at sea. They are accessible to any Sailor or Marine who needs help. You will read their stories all week as we celebrate National Volunteer Week.

Our volunteers come from all walks of life; they are young mothers who need time away from the house, active duty service members, seasoned executives retired from corporate careers, and young people needing community service credits.  They are all people who are motivated to serve others and give back. They bring a wealth of skill and life experience and we make every effort to create opportunities for them to serve by tapping into those skills. When we create a meaningful connection with our volunteers, they can create a meaningful connection with the Sailors and Marines we serve.

The military is a dynamic institution and our volunteers help us learn and adapt to the diverse needs of active duty Sailors and Marines and retirees. We like to say that we are consistent in policy but flexible in delivery. We learn from our volunteers every day. “The answers are in the field,” we often say here at Headquarters.

This is a week to celebrate all volunteers and the contributions they make to our nation. Because of Society volunteers, no Sailor or Marine has to suffer through a difficult personal situation alone.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel honored to serve our volunteers. On behalf of the Society and the many thousands of Sailors and Marines we serve, I salute our volunteers and thank them for their service and their irreplaceable contribution.



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