Volunteer for a Safer Community 4 wb.jpgVolunteer for a Safer Community 7 wb.jpgThe Fort Drum Soldier and Family Readiness Division hosted a “Volunteer for a Safer Community” event May 23, which served as a volunteer fair and a 101 Days of Summer safety expo inside The Peak ballroom. Representatives from nearly 30 installation and off-post organizations and agencies were available to answer questions from community members. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

Fort Drum agencies, off-post organizations promote volunteering for safer community

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (May 24, 2023) – A combination volunteer fair and safety expo, with the theme “Volunteer for a Safer Community,” invited community members to explore ways to give back and promote a safer Fort Drum.The event was hosted by the Fort Drum Soldier and Family Readiness Division team, with representatives from nearly 30 installation and off-post organizations and agencies in attendance May 23 inside The Peak ballroom.

Dani Reed, Fort Drum Army Volunteer Corps program manager, said that promoting safety and volunteerism is a yearround effort.

“Typically, in the past, this would be two separate events,” she said. “But we decided to combine efforts to get more participation from our community partners, so that people can learn how these organizations promote safety and the volunteer opportunities that are available.”

Reed said that volunteering is a good way to strengthen mental and social well-being. She said, oftentimes, volunteers tell her the work simply makes them feel like productive members of the community.

“Volunteering keeps people busy, and it makes them feel good about what they are doing,” Reed said.

She said camaraderie develops within a group of volunteers that, in turn, has a wider significance in the community.

“When you work with your neighbors in the community, and get to know them, it makes you feel more like you’re a part of the community,” Reed said. “And you help create a safer environment for everyone.”

Diane Peebles, a former Fort Drum garrison employee, said that she found volunteering to be a rewarding post-retirement experience. She is active in her church, and she completed the master gardener course through Cornell Cooperative Extension, which also has volunteer opportunities. On post, Peebles helps with tours and beautification projects at LeRay Mansion. 

“I’ve been volunteering at LeRay Mansion for a couple of years now,” she said. “I love the history of it, and I happen to be local too, so I feel a connection there. It’s so relaxed, especially when you’re gardening. And if you’re interested in history, it is a great opportunity to learn.”

History lovers also can volunteer at the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Museum.

“We have volunteer positions at the front desk to welcome visitors and provide them with a brief overview about the museum,” said Doug Schmidt, museum curator. “Or if they are interested, volunteers may choose to do some research and help us make new discoveries about Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division.”

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call (315) 774-0391.

The national 101 Days of Summer campaign begins on Memorial Day weekend and ends after Labor Day, marking the largest vacation period of the year. It is also a time to increase awareness about potential risks with activities such as swimming, boating, barbecues, and road trips.

Tammy Leeder, Fort Drum Army Substance Abuse Program specialist, spoke with community members about the dangers of driving under the influence. Her display was located outside The Peak, so attendees could pedal around an obstacle course on a go-cart wearing the drunk goggles.

Skylar Doyle Bleidorn works as a client advocate at the Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County, which supports the community with child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking issues.

“We work closely with the Family Advocacy Program and SHARP (Sexual Harassment / Assault Response and Prevention) at Fort Drum,” she said. “It’s good to have the relationship because they can refer their clientele to us. Sometimes we get clients who aren’t looking for support from the military side and they prefer to work with the civilian side, and that is where we come in. And everything is confidential.”

Attendees also could learn about community safety from CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Jefferson County representatives, volunteer firefighters from Evans Mills Fire Department, and the 3Rs Explosives Safety Education Program.

The 3Rs stand for “Recognize, Retreat and Report,” an easy way for people to remember how to respond if they encounter potentially dangerous munitions or unexploded ordnance. Fort Drum is one several installations selected to implement the 3Rs Program in 2019. Since then, explosives safety messaging and educational resources have been implemented into unit training, Soldier in-processing and community forums.

The SFRD will promote the 101 Days of Summer campaign with events such as the Bike Rodeo on June 14 and the Summer Safety Luau on July 27. There is also monthly 101 Days of Summer safety training scheduled monthly at the Multipurpose Auditorium.

For more information, call (315) 772-6706.