If you’ve read my blog from the beginning you know that I started to volunteer with the American Red Cross here in Okinawa. It is hard to believe that a whole year has gone by [well at this point its been past one year] and I have some exciting end results to share.
My volunteer story begins with signing up to be the Records Chairman on Kadena Air Base. When I started I thought to myself, what did I just get into?! I was nervous because I was not sure how I would do. Once I started and jumped in, I realized it was easy because of my background in mortgage loan processing. I got comfortable doing what I was doing and ended up cleaning up the majority of the Red Cross Volunteer files, almost 600 volunteer profiles which were condensed down to 350. It was early on in my volunteer journey that I decided I wanted to do more with my time. I went into the office and talked about it with the Red Cross manager and she suggested I could volunteer as a CPR instructor, to which the office staff was very receptive and gave me a scholarship so that I would not have to pay to become one. The fee to become a CPR instructor can vary from $250 to $300 depending on the area. I was fortunate that I was being given a scholarship. Afterwards, I was told about babysitting courses and how the bridge course was quite simple. I took the course and co-lead three babysitting courses which was fun! To be honest, I enjoy teaching teenagers much more than adults. Mostly, because the teens are funny and some are smelly.
Along my volunteer experience I have met great individuals. It was my first or second station meeting that I met a retired Navy nurse who after we started talking ended up telling me about the American Red Cross Medical Assistant program on Camp Foster.My new friend, Beth, mentioned how its a great opportunity not only for growth but to volunteer at the Naval Hospital. A few months later when the program was open for new students, I submitted an application and was thrilled I’d been selected. The program is a twelve week course, with two weeks of intense classroom training and the rest of the time is spent out in clinics. As I calculated my program hours I’d given 380 hours towards the program and even had a small graduation ceremony. I did a good job and I was chosen as the class liaison between the Red Cross staff and the Naval staff to relay pertinant information to students. After the program ended I had enjoyed volunteering at the Hospital so much, I asked the Red Cross staff on Camp Foster if I could take over as their Hospital Chairman and they said yes. At the same time I had talked with the Kadena AB staff if they thought it would be an issue since I’d be on both leadership boards, luckily they did not.
On top of the program and volunteering at the Hospital. I had seen our Squadron Commander’s wife post on social media about looking for volunteers to be part of the Young Tiger Spouses leadership team. At this point in time, I had figured my husband had been in and out of the house so much that one more project would not hurt. I inquired and later was appointed treasurer of our spouse group. I ended up helping with our squadron’s Christmas Party and the Kids Christmas party too.
I could go on about all the things I was able to do through my one year of being a volunteer. To be told I was nominated for the Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year award was a shock to me. I was about to get in line to get lunch when my husband told me that I screamed out, holy cow! I only knew I won at the Squadron level, which at this level I was more than humbled and surprised because I did not know who would have nominated me. In my mind, all the volunteering I’ve done has been for myself. Or, as my dear friend Minori says “This is my time, I’m being selfish” to which I usually reply back, “you are selfless with your selfishness.” Once I got home my husband explained the process of the award. He said it would filter through the following layers of the Air Force, Squadron, Group, Wing, I’m not entirely sure what the next level is considered but it ends up at the Pacific Forces and who ever wins that competes with other spouses also nominated across the Air Force. I didn’t think much about it, I figured if I won at the squadron level, that’s cool.
God has a sense of humor because a few months later I found out I won at the base level and at the Pacific Air Force level! I never imagined that setting time aside to help people would grant me such an honor. I am deeply humbled and so grateful to God, my husband and all the wonderful people I met throughout this journey. I had an amazing time accepting my award. One of the high lights was getting “coined” by the 18th Wing base commander.
I found myself on an 11 hr flight back to Okinawa when my husband notified me that I did not win at the Air Force level. I wish to inform you that I was sad to find this out, but I was not. I do what I do for the love of others, because at one point of time we all need little help in this crazy military life. As I write this, I have donated 1,048 volunteer hours to the American Red Cross, using the dollar base that the independent sector released Volunteer hour the cost of a volunteer per hour… I have donated: $25,310.