Commentary

March 14, 2014

The impact of a simple email

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It’s been a long day. I’m tired, worn out. It seems like the emails just won’t stop. Review this, update that, and the ever dreaded tasking that was due yesterday. One after another they attack my sanity, chipping away a little at a time. Just when I think the day couldn’t get any more hectic from the demands of the 21st century, a ray of light pokes its head through the clouds. It’s hard to find buried under the weight of my mandatory assignments, but it’s there, the email that makes my day “volunteer opportunity.” 

It’s a simple email with a simple request. Help, we need you. I swear they must be talking to me, despite the fact that the salutation says, “ALCON”. How can I say no? They need me. Any contribution I make can help make a difference in someone’s life. And I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Volunteers make a difference within our communities. Since January 1, 2014, over eighty members from 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) have already participated in a multitude of volunteer events. We have collected fruit, sorted through dry food, weeded gardens, painted shelters, fed the hungry, visited the sick, and helped provide aid to local veterans in need. I am convinced that there is no limit to the generosity of our members, who make time in their day to give back to the community that has provided support to them.

Ever gone to lunch and had someone pick up your tab or been offered a 10 percent discount for wearing a uniform? That’s the community’s way of supporting the men and women who wear a military uniform for their service. No business is forced to provide discounts but they do it because they appreciate the sacrifices we make day in and day out. By volunteering within the community we are thanking the community for their support.

Demonstrating our thanks for the community is no easy task but it seems to come easier to some.

You know those people with a silver tongue that talk their way into everything. I’m not one of them. One of my professors described me as off-putting and calloused. Apparently sarcasm doesn’t translate well online. Like many other people my greatest fear is failure, so when it comes to coordinating volunteer events I’m always nervous. Are there going to be enough volunteers? Is the event going to be a success? What if everything goes wrong? Then I remember that I am Murphy’s Law incarnate and every that can go wrong will go wrong.

None of the events that I’ve coordinated have gone off without a hitch. People have not shown up or have left early, project leads have not coordinated their projects, and donations have not gone through. Just when I’m ready to throw in the towel and curl up in corner and cry, the members of 12th Air Force step up.

No matter what the volunteer opportunity entails it seems like I end up with ten responses in the first hour. Nothing makes me happier than asking for fifteen volunteers and having to turn around and ask an organization if they can accommodate thirty. And for every person who doesn’t show up, I usually have three more volunteers who show up unexpectedly. I have witnessed the members of 12th Air Force give their time, sweat, and money to make these events as memorable for the community as they possibly can. Although they give so much, much more than I would ever dream of asking, they still turn around and thank me for setting up the volunteer opportunity for them and more often than not ask me to sign them up for the next event.

As military members the “whole Airman concept” is drilled into us from day one. It has become obvious to me that the Airmen of this unit have surpassed the “whole Airman concept.”

Our feedbacks are maps that guide our performance reports and award packages. More often than not volunteer work is listed as one of the necessary items for that firewall five. For many people it can be a daunting challenge to balance our work, home, extracurricular activities while trying to fit volunteer work into our schedules. That challenge seems to come easier for the Airman of 12th Air Force, who never miss and are grateful for the opportunity to give back to the community.

The selfless generosity of this unit has instilled in me a sense of pride that I have never had before and I am honored to serve next to each and every one. It’s almost hard to believe it all started with a simple email.




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