Fort McCoy, Wis. –
During the year, but especially during the holidays, people often look for ways to volunteer. One 88th Readiness Division employee is a person who epitomizes the idea of volunteering.
Volunteering is central to Brandon Graham, a human resource specialist working casualty assistance operations in G-1. “Volunteering is important to me because it’s about more than yourself. It gives you a feeling that you can’t obtain without putting something before yourself,” he said. “Volunteering is a win-win scenario that allows both the volunteer and the recipient to increase the quality of their lives. Life is all about helping people. Often, we help ourselves, so the contrast of serving others can be dramatically heartwarming.”
Graham started volunteering when he was 8 years old in Cub Scouts. “My parents were very involved in the community,” he said.
He most recently volunteered to serve at a local Thanksgiving meal along with colleagues from the 88th RD. He found the event “hard to turn down. It was easy to do, it was right here in a neighboring community, and it was a wonderful way to meet new people by committing to a basic act of service,” Graham said. “Feeding people is an obvious necessity; so why not help do that in a community-based environment that fosters relationships?”
Graham has served in many positions in the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts over the last two decades and has volunteered with smaller local organizations over the years, especially around the holidays.
“When I was younger, I participated in a program called Project Santa Clause. This program covered our entire (very large) county. Volunteers would assemble at a centrally located, rented warehouse. The city busses would be put to task for that day and be loaded up with food and presents for less fortunate families,” he explained.
“Teams of about six to eight volunteers were pre-assigned and loaded onto buses; sometimes they had to cram in because the bus was so loaded. About 30 buses would then roam about the county stopping at the homes of these nominated families. The amount of food and presents dropped off at each home was modest, however, the gratitude shown from the families were much, much more than that.”
Graham sees many benefits to volunteering, both for himself and the community. “A nation is a collection of communities. As such, I hope to build a better nation through volunteering,” he said. “It helps locals take ownership of the task at hand, of the relationships that are forged, and of the community in which they live. This sense of ownership can inspire the pride of a community, and thereby, the pride of a nation.”
Also serving as an Army Reserve Soldier, Graham encourages others to volunteer. “Just do it! You learn so much, you meet new people, you connect with your community, your sense of gratitude will increase, and you will find yourself either giving, receiving, or both giving and receiving joy as you serve,” he said.
And how about finding the right volunteer event? Graham suggests talking to your friends, co-workers, neighbors, or just search online. “There are opportunities all around,” he said.