Change your summer

  • Published
  • By Capt. Ashley Norris
  • Nellis Public Affairs
President Barack Obama put out a call to service for all Americans to serve their community and country. On April 21, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Service America Act, which is about "connecting deeds to needs," he said.

The act triples the size of AmeriCorps volunteers over the next seven years, and creates a social innovation fund that advances programs for clean energy, education, health care, veterans care, and economic opportunity.

"We need your service, right now, at this moment in history. I'm not going to tell you what your role should be; that's for you to discover. But I am asking you to stand up and play your part. I'm asking you to help change history's course, put your shoulder up against the wheel," said President Obama. "And if you do, I promise you your life will be richer, our country will be stronger, and someday, years from now, you may remember it as the moment when your own story and the American story converged, when they came together, and we met the challenges of our new century."

The need is great and many of these non-profit organizations rely upon volunteers to reach their goals. There are a plethora of organizations locally, nationally and globally to support every cause. Here are a few resources available to connect deeds to needs and put volunteers into action.

On Base
"We are always looking for volunteers," said Chaplain (Capt.) Andrew Suh, Senior Protestant chaplain from the Nellis Chapel. The chapel has so many programs and volunteers help make them a success, he said. They have weekly and project-based opportunities available for all religious denominations. Call, 652-2950 or email Andrew.suh@nellis.af.mil to find out how you can serve.

The 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office is always looking for volunteers throughout the year. "We have lots of volunteer opportunities," said Gene Hill, Public Affairs civilian, to include tutoring, eating supper with senior citizens, being in parades, assisting tour groups and public speaking events. Anybody interested in being put on their volunteer list should send an email to 99abw.pa@nellis.af.mil.

Volunteers run the Nellis Thrift Shop and are only asked to work a four hour shift monthly. There are perks for working at least eight hours a month like lower consignment fees and first pick of new products in the store. Interested volunteers should stop by or call (702) 652-3777.

Off Base
Animal-lovers can help out the local Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a no-kill shelter, by becoming foster parents to kittens or puppies until they are old enough to be adopted. They need volunteers to socialize and brush the animals, help maintain clean habitats, walk the dogs and more. Volunteers are required to have a tetanus vaccination. Find out how to help the animals by going to their website at www.nevadaspca.org or call (702) 873-SPCA.

The website www.serve.gov has a search option to match up interests with locations. It has opportunities to serve from home, overseas and locally. A search for 'military' in the Nellis AFB zip code turned up 32 home-based options, seven international options, and four local opportunities with the America Red Cross, Southern Nevada Chapter. A similar service search engine is www.volunteermatch.org, which has opportunities to build a Habitat for Humanity house, mentor at-risk teens and assist victims of domestic violence to name a few.

At www.volunteer.gov there are listings for campground hosts, seed collectors, wildlife ranger, hike leader and more. These positions come with perks and commitments and are for government agencies such as the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Make the past come alive at the Springs Preserve. They have opportunities to learn while volunteering in many areas of interest: propagation, tour guide, archaeology, library, docent, special events and more. To volunteer, call (702) 822-7751 or go online to www.springspreserve.org .

Most of these organizations have employees who are dedicated to assisting volunteers and can answer all of your questions. These professionals are there to make sure that every volunteer has a safe and pleasant experience that is suited to their age and interests. Volunteers should expect an orientation class or training period.

Volunteering provides an opportunity to see a different side of the Las Vegas community and is a great way to meet locals with common interests, network and give something back to the local community. For those who are not yet involved, President Obama said, "All that's required on your part is a willingness to make a difference. That is, after all, the beauty of service. Anyone can do it. You don't need to be a community organizer, or a Senator - or a Kennedy - or even a president to bring change to people's lives."