JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —
The Joint Base San Antonio Military & Family Readiness Center Volunteer Program is seeking volunteers to participate in “Make A Difference Day,” a nationwide day of community service from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 27 at installations throughout JBSA.
Make A Difference Day is one of the largest annual single days of voluntary service in the United States. Started in 1992, the day of voluntary service is held each year on the fourth Saturday in October.
Units and organizations throughout JBSA that need volunteer help will be sponsoring community service projects during Make A Difference Day. JBSA started participating in the nationwide day of service in 2017, with 150 volunteers helping out on six community service projects hosted by units and organizations at JBSA installations.
Jai Bell, JBSA M&FRC Volunteer Program work life specialist, said the community service projects that will be held on Make a Difference Day provide an opportunity for volunteers to give back to the JBSA community.
“Make A Difference Day gives an individual or group an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” Bell said. “Even the smallest act of giving back can mean a lot to a person on the other end.”
Active-duty, military family members, Department of Defense civilians and retirees can volunteer to participate in a service project through the Volunteer Management Information System, or VMIS, on the Army OneSource website. VMIS provides tools and resources for volunteers in local Army communities throughout the U.S., including a list of volunteer opportunities and service projects and a record and tracking of volunteer hours.
Bell said JBSA units and organizations who intend to host a community service project have until Sept. 28 to submit their projects to the JBSA M&FRC Volunteer Program. Once those projects have been submitted, a list of the projects will be posted on the VMIS site Oct. 5. Volunteers who are registered through VMIS can select which project they want to participate in.
JBSA members who want to participate in Make A Difference Day must be registered on VMIS. To register, JBSA members need to attend the Volunteering 101 workshop that is held every other Tuesday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m. at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC. The workshop provides information on how to use and navigate VMIS and volunteer opportunities within the JBSA community.
The next Volunteering 101 workshop will be Sept. 18. JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC is located at 3060 Stanley Road, building 2797.
Bell said she wants to increase the level of participation within JBSA for the volunteer event.
“Hopefully, we will have twice as more service projects and volunteers than last year and garner more interest in volunteerism and awareness in the (JBSA) volunteer program,” she said.
Last year, Bell said volunteers participated in various community service projects throughout JBSA including cleaning, landscaping, gardening, painting and administrative and organizational work.
Those projects that were part of Make A Difference Day in 2017 included the scrubbing and repainting of interior walls, repainting of classrooms and installation of curtains in some offices at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC; the cleaning and preservation of headstones at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery; and the landscaping of facilities at the Fisher House and the Children’s Association for Maximum Potential, or CAMP, both at JBSA-Lackland.
Bell volunteered her time last year on the project that spruced up the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC. She said the results from that project made a difference in the appearance of the building, especially for the active-duty members, military dependents and retirees who utilize the services in it.
“The facilities were brought up to a more welcoming environment that fits the professional services provided,” Bell said.
Bell said there are several advantages of volunteering: making connections within the JBSA community, becoming aware of programs and services that benefit the military community, enhancing job skills and work experience that can be put on a resume and strengthening the JBSA community through civic engagement.
“Volunteers can network with the organizations and possibly create further opportunities for volunteerism,” Bell said.
She said volunteers who help out on community service projects free up organizations and units within JBSA to focus on their missions.
For information about Make A Difference Day and the JBSA volunteer program, contact Military & Family Readiness Centers at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, 210-221-2705/2418; JBSA-Lackland, 210-671-3722; and JBSA-Randolph, 210-652-5321.