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On-base volunteering opportunities at JBLM

Red Cross volunteer and veteran Bill Parrish works the information desk at Madigan Army Medical Center greeting patients and families and escorting them to clinics. Photo credit: Christina Butcher

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Volunteering should be fun. Of course, it should be meaningful, too, but there's no denying that when we spend our free time helping others, it doesn't hurt to give back through organizations and activities that reflect our real interests. For those on the hunt for volunteer opportunities to keep them happily engaged, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) has a diverse sprinkling of volunteer positions available.

One of the oldest volunteer organizations on post, the American Red Cross (ARC) is housed within Madigan Army Medical Center (MAMC) and provides hospital assistance and emergency communications between deployed servicemembers and their families. While ARC has approximately 200 volunteers supporting MAMC at any given time, the organization is constantly seeking volunteers to help with administrative healthcare duties, greet patients at the information desk, escort people to various clinics and deliver books and magazines to the bedsides of countless patients.

"The beauty of what we do is in being on the ground and helping people on a local, daily life level," said Sarah Jacob, Regional Program specialist for the ARC at JBLM. "On post, you'll find our volunteers interacting with servicemembers, their families and their children in the hospital ... and giving briefings to servicemembers and their families as they're about to deploy. I love that our volunteers are actually out there interacting with the people they're giving their services to."

Fisher House JBLM, which provides servicemembers and families a place to stay while receiving medical care at MAMC, is another organization always looking for volunteers. Volunteers can assist in preparing meals for guests, working in the front office, or giving tabletop briefings at community events and fundraisers.

Speaking of kids, CYSS, an on-post support organization for military families with school-aged children, is a great match for people hoping to spend their free time outside immersed in the glee of children at play. JBLM CYSS supports youth sports programs on base and accepts volunteers as youth sports coaches for varying age groups and intramural sports teams.

For those looking for a more relaxed, quiet space to devote time, the Lewis Army Museum on JBLM North is the perfect place to do so. History buffs can volunteer as museum docents, greeting visitors and giving orientations at the museum; serve as gift shop associates while tinkering in the museum store; work in the museum library and archives; or help at special events.

JBLM's Grandstaff Library also has a low-key, family-oriented volunteer opportunity called Quilts for Kids, an all-volunteer quilting club that sews quilts for children who are coping with the disruption of deployed parents. The group was founded in 2003 by Marty Alexander and works to provide comfort to the children through handmade quilts. Quilts for Kids meets at the Grandstaff Library every Thursday and accepts fabric donations and volunteers alike. Volunteers need not have any sewing experience, either, as there are always small, helpful tasks that any novice can tackle.  

USO NW Shali Center is another valuable volunteer-led organization serving the JBLM area. Run by USO Northwest, the Shali Center provides care package distribution to deployed soldiers and on-base meals, lounges, library and computer services for servicemembers and their families. More than 90 percent of the services at the USO Shali Center are made possible through volunteers who serve meals, assist with travel needs and distribute care packages and deployment kits to servicemembers and their families.

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