By Scott Prater | Mountaineer staff
FORT CARSON, Colo. — It’s been a while since Joey Bautista could talk to strangers one-on-one, but April 19, 2021, outside the Commissary, under the shade of an Army Community Service tent, he struck up a conversation with nearly everyone who happened to walk by. Fort Carson’s volunteer services manager and staff at ACS set up an awareness booth near the Commissary exit, in part to recognize National Volunteer Week, but also to ramp up volunteer recruitment efforts.
After more than a year of stunted operations, many organizations are beginning to open their doors –and those dependent on volunteers are in dire need.
“I think we recruited at least 10 in just this one day,” Bautista said. “As things begin to open up again, we have continually more volunteer opportunities.”
Established in 1974, National Volunteer Week recognizes the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges and build stronger communities.
Bautista explained that the week also provides organizations and institutions a chance to reward and recognize their volunteers with in-house ceremonies.
“It’s an opportunity for Army units, directorates and community partners around Fort Carson to acknowledge people who have been so instrumental in the success of their organizations,” he said. “For instance, Fort Carson ACS hosted its annual volunteer awards ceremony Tuesday.”
Kristen Kea, ACS chief, explained that like many organizations around the world, ACS hasn’t seen many of its volunteers in quite some time.
“It’s important to reach out to volunteers and highlight what their service means,” she said. “And when volunteers do come back (to an organization) its important for leaders and staff to step in and say thanks.”
Bautista’s volunteer recruitment push continued this week as he and fellow ACS staff visited the Exchange, Evans Army Community Hospital and other high foot-traffic locations, where they explained the benefits of volunteering and relayed information about the latest opportunities.
“A lot of organizations are looking for volunteers now,” Bautista said. “The recreation division is looking to fill volunteer roles before we head into summertime, for example, while Child and Youth Services is looking for coaches for this summer’s sports activities.”
ACS volunteer services also partners with and arranges volunteer opportunities for off-post organizations, like local soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, the Humane Society, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Pikes Peak Marathon.
Bautista also announced that volunteer services will host a culminating event at the Elkhorn Conference Center May 12, 2021, where the organization will recognize the installation’s top-notch volunteers, including the volunteer of the year and the youth volunteer of the year.
“Beginning this year, we will also induct two people into the Fort Carson Volunteer Hall of Fame,” he said. “These folks really have no equal. To even qualify for the hall of fame, a person must have earned the volunteer-of-the-year honor three times. It will be special. No other Army installation has a volunteer hall of fame.”
To learn more about volunteer opportunities, both on and off post, visit https://carson.armymwr.com/programs/army-volunteer-corps or call ACS volunteer services at 719-526-4590.