Do you have to move mountains

COLUMBUS AFB, Miss. -- All right, the title of this article may be a little cheesy, but the gist of the message is serious: you don't have to be Hercules when it comes to making a difference in your community. When was the last time you spent your personal time serving the local community? If you are like the majority of the US population, a whopping 74 percent, it has probably been over a year since you did something outside of the home to benefit your neighborhood. My goal is not to guilt trip you into service, but to convince you that you too can bring about positive change with just a few hours a month and teach your kids the value of giving back at the same time. 

The hardest part of volunteering, in my opinion, is finding a volunteer need that is interesting to you. This doesn't have to be as difficult as we make it. An easy starting point is to figure out where your passions lie. Are you interested in animals? If so, call the local shelter and see what opportunities they have to feed and exercise the dogs and cats housed there. What about caring for the elderly? Home hospice and local retirement homes are always looking for help. We've all heard about charities like Habitat for Humanity and the United Way. These programs are an excellent place to start when trying to match your skills and interests to a particular need. 

An organization close to my heart is the Boy Scouts of America. Did you know that you don't have to be a Boy Scout or even a man to volunteer with this group? I learned that when my then 6-year old son wanted to join the Cub Scouts. Great! I definitely wanted my son affiliated with an organization whose promise is: "I (state your name here), promise to do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people, and to obey the Law of the Pack!" The problem was there were no adult leaders or parents of pack members that were willing or able to step up. Well, I wanted my son to have the opportunity to be a scout so I volunteered. And do you know what I discovered? People are willing to help as long as there is a leader. Almost every parent in my pack has helped in some way; they just needed a vector from someone pointing them in the right direction. That leader, that someone can be you. 

Volunteering doesn't have to be through a formalized program like the Boy Scouts or the United Way. Do you have children? If so, be the first to stick your hand up to coach the soccer team. It doesn't matter if you don't know the first thing about soccer, what is important is that you are willing to learn and to help. What a fantastic message to send your kids. Another idea is to volunteer your time at a local school. One of Col. Gerber's initiatives for education is for any Airman with the desire to consider tutoring at a local school during the school/duty day - within mission constraints and your supervisor's consent, of course. With education a primary priority for both the base and the county, volunteering is a great way to influence children today while making a positive impact for our country tomorrow. 

Your service means a lot to the community and to your family. If you teach your children now that spending time helping others is important, they will grow up with that value and pass it on to their families. Let's get the volunteering circle started, in our families, squadrons or Sunday school classes. It will make a difference and even move a few molehills while we're at it.