When I was involved in COMPASS (spouses mentoring spouses program for the Navy) and as a previous Ombudsman we always talked about the fact that spouses needed to get out and if nothing else, volunteer. It’s something that can help tremendously in learning the area, meeting new people, and making use of free time. Simply put volunteering keeps you busy when you need it most and it makes you feel good about yourself, because you are helping others.
When we moved up here to the Pacific North West I wasn’t sure if I was going to do any volunteering, after all I was homeschooling my kids, and we were constantly out and about hiking and exploring our awesome new state. But fast forward to 1.5 years later and I found my self really needing to get out of the house and make my self useful. It wasn’t that I’m not useful normally, at least I’d like to think I’m pretty useful, but it’s just that I needed to do something for me. All my time is spent with my kids, and I need a break from time to time, I need some sanity in my crazy life.
But it’s kind of funny how things work, because once I decided that I was truly ready to start volunteering again I got picked up as Ombudsman. It’s something that took a while to happen, and at first I went back and forth on whether or not I was going to do it, but when decision time came it was a great big “Yes”. I really don’t know why. I don’t consider volunteering as an Ombudsman a “Me” thing, it’s actually quiet possibly the exact opposite. But in some weird way it works, because I feel at home being an Ombudsman. I’ve done it twice before and I like answering questions and pointing people in the right direction; I like being there for the families, giving out reliable information, squashing rumors and sharing resources that sometimes get overlooked!
A neat thing that happened was in addition to starting on as an Ombudsman I actually found a Horse Sanctuary right down the road from my house to volunteer at.
Since we’ve moved here I’ve loved the fact that the Pacific North Wet West is secretly horse country. Between all the trees and the ‘back to nature’ (did they really ever leave the natural look) landscape are tons of paddocks and fields with horses in them. I don’t think you could go down a road in Northern Kitsap with out seeing at least one horse. It’s really great for a horse lover like me. So when we moved here I really wanted to get back into horseback riding and simply just being around horses again. I considered advertising as a farm sitter or taking lessons but just never committed to much; probably because I couldn’t find a farm or stables that really fit me and wasn’t more than 15 minutes away.
But then, all of a sudden a friend of mine posted that a horse she had previously owned (and sold) was now at a rescue ready to be adopted. With that announcement it dawned on me that I was looking in the wrong places, because honestly I didn’t want the commitment of having to tend to someone else’s horses during certain times of the day, and I really didn’t want to pay for lessons. So when she posted that, I decided to look for local rescues, and that’s when I found the Horse Harbor Sanctuary 10 minutes away from my house.
Now, this was something that I can volunteer for and it’s totally all about me. Ok, not quite, but it’s totally the ultimate in feel good volunteering. Taking care of rescued horses at their forever home (this specific sanctuary doesn’t adopt back out), is a rewarding volunteer opportunity, seeing the horses thrive and showing them love and caring for them when you know that in the past their life wasn’t as easy.
Tomorrow will make my third day volunteering at the sanctuary and I spoke at a command function as the new Ombudsman this week, and I’m feeling great! It’s nice to get out of the rut I was stuck in, and it’s great to start meeting new people and dive back into volunteering again.
If you are feeling in a rut and really just need a change, try volunteering. There are tons of things you can volunteer for, your family readiness group, Ombudsman/key volunteer, NMCRS, the local humane society, a rescue, a women’s shelter, or the local volunteer fire department, etc. There are tons of opportunities that you will find once you start looking. And if you don’t know where to start, try looking into something you enjoy doing; for me that was working with horses, for you it might be working with a local chorus or band.
One of the best things about volunteering is that you can claim it all as work experience on your resume when it is time for you to return back to the work force. So if helping others, and making yourself feel good isn’t enough, just keep in mind that your volunteering today can help you get a job in the future! Oh, and it just might keep you sane during those crazy days of deployment.