Recently, Governor Gary Herbert signed a declaration making 2014 a year of service to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of UServeUtah and to challenge citizens to serve their communities. Throughout this year of service we will focus on several major areas of volunteerism and National Service with the goal of inspiring more citizens to volunteer. Let’s take a look at the focus area of Veterans and Military Families.
As part of our 20th Anniversary focus on Veterans and Military Families, we talked with local community organizations and National Service Programs, and have highlighted the great work being done by Utah volunteers and outlined ways you can get involved. Here’s just a sampling of organizations who are working with Veterans and Military Families to get you thinking of ways you can volunteer:
Volunteer. Support Utah’s Veterans and Military Families
- Find a volunteer opportunity near you online.
- Challenge your family and friends to volunteer with our “You Got Served! Pay it Forward!”campaign and then Share Your Service Story.
- Brainstorm with family and friends about community needs and design your own volunteer project. Check out these great toolkits to get you started.
The American Legion Auxiliary works to support and honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of veterans, military members, and their families. The Legion has a number of volunteer supported initiatives including children and youth programs, education scholarships, supporting service members who are hospitalized or in transition, and providing donated Christmas gifts. If you are interested in volunteering with the Legion please contact Cary Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Utah Conservation Corps actively recruits veterans to serve in their programs. Veterans serving with Utah Conservation Corps will learn valuable job skills helping them transition into civilian life. Utah Conservation Corps AmeriCorps members maintain and construct trails, remove noxious weeds, restore habitat, provide environmental education, and literacy tutoring. Find out how you can get involved here.
The Utah Parent Teacher Association (PTA) works with military families through Regional Directors and their Military Family Specialist in order to support the needs of military families and children in schools across the state. They provide information, programs, resources and ideas to local PTA president volunteers, who are charged with identifying and evaluating the needs of the Military Families in their local school, and implementing programs and projects that will help, support, and meet military families’ needs. Throughout Utah local PTA volunteers are honoring, celebrating, and supporting military families. To help support military families and children contact your local PTA or visit Utah PTA online.
The Salt Lake County Senior Companion program is recruiting volunteers to provide companionship to aging Veterans and respite care services for caregivers of veterans. Learn more online.
Operation Military Kids (OMK) mission is to support school-age youth and families of National Guard, Army Reserve and Active Duty Soldiers’ in their own backyards. The OMK program bolsters resiliency in an effort to help military youth and families better navigate the up’s and down’s of military life. OMK is looking for volunteers to provide craft projects, games, or other activities for Unit Military Family Day Events and holiday parties. OMK also needs camp volunteers that would like to teach a special skill like sewing, cooking, fitness classes, leadership, workforce preparation, and anything geared towards STEM. If you would like to volunteer for Operation Military Kids there are opportunities state wide. Please contact Rachelle Greenhalgh at 435-632-4608.
AmeriCorps Making a Difference in the Lives of Veterans:
Impacting the Lives of Veterans and Military Families
- The American Legion Auxiliary in Utah sponsors an annual “Gift Shop” at the Salt Lake VA Hospital for inpatients and outpatients who cannot provide Christmas presents for their families. Veterans are allowed to “shop” for themselves and immediate family members, gifts are wrapped and mailed – all at no charge. In 2013 the Gift Shop served 526 veterans and 903 family members. Volunteers served 10,857 hours and over $8,000 in donated items were received.
- In partnership with Operation Military Kids the American Legion Auxiliary sponsors events for children of military members throughout the year at various unit events. Volunteers donated 156 hours planning and hosting the events and 60 families were served.
- In 2013 The Utah Conservation Corps placed 5 AmeriCorps Members who are veterans. They served 1,950 hours and gained valuable career skills through their AmeriCorps service.
- The Salt Lake County Senior Companion program provides friendship and companionship to aging veterans and provides respite care for their caregivers. Currently 3 volunteers are serving through the VA. Last year 2,068 hours of service were provide to 10 caregivers of veterans.
- The Utah Parent Teacher Association works to address the needs of military families and children in schools across the state. Local schools have organized students and volunteers to make wreaths to lay on fallen soldiers graves, completed art projects supporting military service members and their families, and written letters of gratitude to our troops.
- In 2013, 150 volunteers provided 1,100 hours of service to Operation Military Kids. These volunteers served at summer camps, helped out at Military Family Day events and coordinated events for Month of the Military Child across the state.
Serving those who served us, as well as engaging the talents of our veterans and military families is a strategic priority for national service programs and local organizations here in Utah. We are committed to increasing efforts to assist our veterans and military families. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is increasing their investment and partnerships with other federal, state, local, and non-profits from coast to coast. On any given day, there are nearly 50 different organizations, hundreds of projects and initiatives, and more than 4,000 CNCS-empowered individuals engaged in service that benefits our military family and veteran community. Click here to learn more.
Senior Corps Making a Difference in the Lives of Veterans: