JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —
April 15 to April 21 is recognized as National Volunteer Appreciation Week every year, honoring the value of volunteers and their efforts in everything they do. Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph not only recognizes volunteers daily, but also participates in the observance every year.
Volunteer opportunities within the Thrift Shop, Education Center, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office, plus many more are available throughout the base. The JBSA-Randolph Military Family and Readiness Center provides resources for anyone interested in these opportunities.
At JBSA-Randolph, there are volunteers at different agencies who aid in the Air Force mission every day, and the selflessness of those volunteers is appreciated just as much as the service members here.
Ora Blake, a 30-year resident in the neighboring community of Converse, has been faithfully volunteering every chance she gets at Chapel 1 since 2009.
“When I retired, I was finding too much work at home to do and I thought I should be at a place in my life where I can give my service somewhere it was needed,” Blake said. “I couldn’t think of a place better than to work here at the chapel.”
When her husband, a retired U.S. Air Force Captain, was stationed at the base, she attended the chapel and sang in the choir. At the time, the chapel needed a receptionist, so she manned the front desk as the receptionist, and it stuck from there.
Blake said she does “anything and everything they ask me to do.” She helps with keeping the chapel clean, directs people where to go, takes calls and messages, gardens around the chapel and is even a responsive reader for the congression.
“We would shut our doors if we didn’t have volunteers,” said Captain Michael Hayhurst, Chaplain at JBSA-Randolph.
Along with the chapel services, youth sports at JBSA-Randolph would cease without the help of volunteer coaches.
Scott Lee Denson, retired Army sergeant major, has been a volunteer coach most of th etimre he has been a father, and continued volunteering upon arrival at JBSA-Randolph eight months ago.
“My time in the military taught me to care about my community, so it’s kind of ingrained in me,” said Denson, “and when I retired I thought, I don’t have any soldiers to lead, but I have all these kids on base that I can pour into.”
Denson is not only a volunteer coach, but also a mentor at Clemens High School in Shertz. He is also a member of the Randolph Field Education Foundation.
Volunteering not only benefits the program and community, it also benefits the volunteers themselves.
“You definitely get a sense of self-gratification,” Denson said.
Denson said building a stronger bond with his daughter when he coached her team was a huge benefit.
He has seized this opportunity to use his military background to teach his daughter, and other children, about resiliency and the importance of volunteer work.
“I’ve kind of taken that role in the military and applied it to stuff that I’m doing with the kids, because if you’re a good coach the kids really respond to you,” Denson said. “I want her to know to volunteer whenever you have the time, because it’s always great to give back.”
“I couldn’t see my life without coaching or volunteering, and the work I’m doing with education,” he said.
Volunteers like Blake and Denson are shown appreciation every day at JBSA-Randolph, but to highlight just how much the JBSA-Randolph Military and Family Readiness Center has scheduled a Volunteer Appreciation Picnic from 11 am to 1 pm, April 13 at the M&FRC.
“I think that the whole thing that they take time out every year to recognize volunteers is a great thing,” said Denson. “You have a lot of volunteers who just do it because it’s in their heart to do, they’re not really looking for anything, but at the end of the day it’s always great when someone gives you a pat on the back.”
For more information on the Volunteer Appreciation Picnic, call 210-652-5321.