Volunteerism is defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as, “The act or practice of doing volunteer work in community service.”
The very act of volunteering is a cornerstone for the United States military – there are nearly 1.5 million individuals in the uniformed services, and all of them volunteered to be there. They are volunteers who decided to sacrifice their lives for the betterment of themselves and their country. For some, enlisting or commissioning was enough, while others are driven to extend further into the immediate communities around them.
At the Naval Postgraduate School, officer students, staff Sailors, and their colleagues from across the services and the classroom, place a priority on making a difference in the local region.
“We volunteer in Monterey and its surrounding counties,” said Lt. Endia Mendez, Vice President of the Monterey Chapter of the National Naval Officers Association and a student in NPS’ Graduate School of Business and Public Policy. “One of our programs is entitled Breakfast for Your Brain, where we tutor local elementary, middle and high school students.”
Service members enjoy reaching out to the community because it gives them a chance to give back while helping to shape minds for the future.
“These sort of programs show that we care about our community,” said Mendez. “We get to talk to the students about their career goals while helping them plan for college and all of their future endeavors.”
“It is our pleasure to volunteer in a variety of events around the Monterey Peninsula,” echoed Information Technician 1st Class Lance Bloodworth, Lead Petty Officer for NPS’ Information Technology and Communications Services group.
“We have served in a variety of ways, from coaching kids baseball and softball to relocating the Habitat for Humanity's warehouse from a dangerous location in Fort Ord to a new location in Seaside. Without a doubt, volunteering has really been a highlight for us here at NPS.”
Sailors frequently serve the local community in a wide variety of events and programs. Food drives to feed the hungry, golf tournaments that raise money for local charities, and athletic events that build awareness are only the beginning. Some Sailors even take it a step further by manning vital positions at local support centers.
“I've been a volunteer at the MCRCC [Monterey County Rape Crisis Center] since November of 2012,” said Yeoman 3rd Class Breana Ruiz. “I man the phones at MCRCC every Tuesday from 1600 through 0600 the next day,” she said. “I volunteer because Monterey Bay is also my community and home.”
The culture of volunteerism at NPS will continue to flourish with programs like Breakfast for Your Brain, honor guard and various volunteer opportunities throughout the Monterey Bay area.
“Whether it is standing in the rain asking for donations or getting my hands dirty, I will do anything I can to help the this community,” said Bloodworth. “The Navy core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment are not just something to follow in regards to being on duty; they are values that I align with everyday of my life,” he said.
At the heart of the volunteer efforts of those across the entire NPS community is a simple, straightforward idea – helping those in need.
“If I walked in the shoes of those who are less fortunate than me, I would want someone to help me if I desperately needed it,” said Bloodworth. “That is why I cannot sit idle knowing that there are less fortunate people out there that need our help.”