Fort Drum community members attending Super Sign-Up on Sept. 20 learn more about volunteer opportunities from Scout leaders and representatives from more than 40 other organizations. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
Annual Super Sign-Up showcases power of volunteerism
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Sept. 25, 2019) – Volunteers are the lifeblood of many community organizations, providing time and effort to supporting events and activities that might otherwise not exist without them.
So when somebody puts his or her name on a list and contributes hours of selfless service, Dani Reed said that it speaks volumes about a person’s character.
“We love our volunteers for what they do for our community,” said Reed, the Fort Drum Army Volunteer Corps coordinator. “They are committed to helping and they are so meaningful in their work. They are awesome … there’s no other word for them.”
The Super Sign-Up is organized annually so that Fort Drum community members can learn about the programs and organization that are supported by a reliable volunteer force.
On Sept. 20, hundreds gathered at the Commons to meet with representatives from more than 40 organizations, to include the American Red Cross, Alzheimer’s Association, USO, National Ski Patrol and Habitat for Humanity.
“This is our way to connect our Soldiers and Families to all the volunteer opportunities on post and off post,” Reed said. “Our hope is to get them out and get them involved because, as we all know, volunteering is beneficial in so many ways. I know when I’m helping someone else, it just feels good. It can really improve your outlook on life.”
Reed said that the event is ideal for new community members who are unfamiliar with the area, and it can also expose people to opportunities they might not have realized were available.
“I think this is great because it promotes growth,” she said. “You can speak to anyone in this room and be inspired to volunteer.”
Soldiers from the Fort Drum Drunk Driving Prevention Program (DDPP) informed the public about opportunities to serve as designated drivers, dispatchers and shift managers. The DDPP provides a way for service members to safely get themselves and their vehicles back to Fort Drum after a night out.
Spc. Tyler Slack, DDPP vice president, said that the program can’t entirely eliminate drunk driving, but it has been successful in providing many people with a safer option.
In fact, it has become viable enough to warrant expansion – going from just weekends and holidays to also covering four-day weekends and unit functions upon request.
He said that they have roughly 20 to 25 volunteers on call on any given weekend, working in pairs for the pickup and drop off of the client and vehicle. People receive volunteer hours for being on call even when they aren’t needed to drive.
“The biggest thing we require from volunteers is being responsive,” Slack said. “We have those who are always available, no matter what day or what hours. But if someone is on call and we can’t get hold of them more than once, you’re not getting credit.”
Any DoD cardholder can volunteer, and Slack said that they can create an account at www.ddpp.us and choose which nights they are available. Volunteer hours are tracked at the Fort Drum DDPP chapter on www.myarmyonesource.com.
Steve Rowell, Watertown Family YMCA chief program officer, said that the upcoming winter soccer league can draw more than 150 teams. That requires a lot of volunteer coaches. Additionally, the YMCA enlists volunteers to support several special events throughout the year, such as the recent Memorial to Monument Run at Thompson Park.
“All of the logistics are led by a staff team, but these events are mostly volunteer-driven,” he said.
Rowell said that volunteers are vetted just like any other employee and they try to match them with suitable volunteer opportunities.
“We have a responsibility to provide a really good opportunity for volunteers,” he said. “We try hard to not only have something productive for them to do, but also to find out from them what their interests are so then everyone has a better experience.”
If that doesn’t work out, Rowell said they can help volunteers find opportunities elsewhere.
“There’s a lot of other agencies in town that we deal with, and we can try and help people make those connections,” he said. “So when we’re having those conversations with people, it might lead to, ‘if it’s not with us, then where else can we lead you to?”
To learn more about volunteering, visit the Fort Drum Army Volunteer Corps office at the Army Community Service building on Restore Hope Avenue, call (315) 772-2899 or visit https://www.facebook.com/FortDrumArmyVolunteerCorps/.