I volunteer 2 days a week as the Health and Safety Chairmen for the American Red Cross at my local chapter. I really enjoy my volunteer work. I help coordinate classes for CPR/1st Aid Certification and Babysitter Safety Classes. Sometimes I even teach them myself. I get to work on fun projects like Disaster Preparation, Operation Open Arms, Holiday Cards for Hero’s, and share information with my community.
I also volunteer in my community leading fitness and health lectures and discussion groups. I participate at information fairs about fitness and help to train advocates to assist victims of sexual assault. Sometimes I volunteer at ‘deployment club’ at the elementary school helping kids who have a parent deployed connect. I love being a part of a community.
Being part of a community to me means giving back. I have always identified myself as a helper. I really enjoy working in teams, participating in discussions, and problem solving with others. I really enjoy being a part of a process that changes and grows.
When I came to Spangdahlem Germany on my first tour as a military wife I felt so alone. I was grieving. I had left a job I loved and a group of friends that had supported me for more than a decade. I left my horse (tears of pain). I left my workout buddies, my happy hour friends, and my coffee buddies. I walked away from the community I had made my own. Becoming a military spouse seemed like the worst thing in the world.
I cried almost every day. My relationship with my husband struggled. I was moody and pessimistic. I certainly wasn’t able to make friends. Who would want to be friends with a moody, sad, pessimistic girl that was grieving. It took me 6 months to get out of my funk and in the process I almost destroyed my marriage and alienated a lot of people that might have been good friends. It was a very hard time.
A few things had to change. I had to say good bye to the person I recognized myself as previously. I needed to embrace a new version of me. That is not easy, and I’m still wandering around lost; often not knowing who I am.
But; I did re-invent myself. I joined the Red Cross. I joined every club I could find. I opened the doors of Cherry Wellness and started helping others toward physical goals. I went to the gym, talked to the staff, and eventually secured a contract providing services. I took time to make friends with my husband again and rebuild our relationship. This weekend is only my 2nd anniversary, it’s been an emotional, difficult, but rewarding two years.
Recently I’ve started to see rewards from my efforts. Contracts, invitations to participate in events, interviews, and finally an award I didn’t even know existed. I won the the President’s Volunteer Service Award. “In recognition and appreciation of commitment to strengthening our Nation and for making a difference through volunteer service.” I even received a letter signed by the President himself!
Through grief, pain, and mistakes; something became better. I became better. I’m proud of myself for moving forward and trying new things. I’d like to encourage you to try something new. And in times of doubt or sadness. Do something for someone else. I’ve found that when I’m giving to others, I’m really getting something so much more for myself.