It pays to volunteer

  • Published
  • By Maj. Emily Farkas
  • 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander
Back when I was a co-ed at Michigan State University, some of my fellow students and I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity (HFH) in Lansing, Mich. It was my first time volunteering with the organization and it was an experience that changed me forever.

I had always been an avid volunteer, especially as a young teenager, but I had volunteered most of my time behind the scenes and never really connected my efforts with the impact it had on others. Volunteering with HFH changed my perspective and anchored the "service before self" attitude.

During my first build with HFH, I met the family that would eventually have a "decent, safe, and affordable" place to live. I was charged with attaching the drywall to the wood frame for the family's 12-year old daughter's room. It was a task I had never done before. After receiving some on-the-job-training from the site supervisor, I was on my way. A few hours into the job, the young teen came in and was so excited to see the walls go up in her room. She eagerly shared with us the details of the paint colors and carpet pattern plans. I'll never forget the deep gratitude she displayed to us for volunteering our time. After meeting her, the hammer felt lighter and I took a little more pride in my work as meeting her put things in perspective.

Over the years, I have continued to volunteer. Each unique experience has given me so much more in return than the time and talent I invested. These experiences have convinced me that you do not have to give a lot of time or have a lot of money to make a significant impact.

As Make a Difference Day draws near on Saturday, Oct. 27, consider giving some of your time and talent toward the greater good of the local community and installation.

Additionally, the Combined Federal Campaign is in full swing and if you cannot spare the time, then consider making a difference with a monetary contribution.

For more information on volunteer opportunities on Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the local community visit:; and for more information on the CFC of South Puget Sound visit: