This period of watching our youngest finish high school and soon fly off to make us empty nesters continues to bring new revelations. Just the other day I was forced to accept that my role as PTA volunteer is ending.
I was helping at the Senior Class Picnic and it struck me that it could be the last time I’d be helping at a school function. At the same time, I was also thinking about how much better I could have made the picnic if I’d been in charge. From mobilizing work crews, to ensuring the supplies needed were at hand, my mind spun through all the previous FRG holiday parties, PTA functions and spouse get-togethers I’d organized. This would have been a piece of cake for such an experienced military volunteer. But on this day, my job was to wrap hundreds of hot dogs with foil as I watched as other parents run the event. Every committee chair needs a good worker bee, right?
My nickname from my kids has been “Professional Volunteer,” through these past 32 years of military life. From unit needs, to various post organizations, to Youth Sports programs, to school PTA assignments, there didn’t seem to be a volunteer job I’d turn down. But I looked at these opportunities as challenges, as did the many other military spouses I worked with. Each year the Services recognize the thousands of volunteers who support military activities, providing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of manpower hours. How did we all become such highly effective and highly-valued volunteers?
Whatever the theory, I will never regret a moment of volunteering. Some of my best memories are tied to those times, especially when I took on a task that was out of my comfort zone. I look forward to finding new opportunities to don my “Professional Volunteer” hat and make my new community bloom, now that we are planted here for awhile.