What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good. – Aristotle
What could you do with seven billion hours? It sounds like a ridiculous question, right? It’s difficult to even fathom what seven billion hours looks like, but it’s a real number with annual significance. Last year, Americans gave over seven billion volunteer hours to organizations and causes all across the country, according to the Corporation for National & Community Service.
At Hire Heroes USA, we are fortunate to be approached every week by professionals nationwide who are simply looking for a way to give back. Our Volunteer Program started in 2012, and today we have more than 700 volunteers. Each does fantastic things for our organization and the veterans and spouses we serve. Most volunteers use their professional expertise to offer personalized recommendations and insights to our clients. Others give their time to improve our capacity or database. Whether our volunteers are working one-on-one with clients or serving the organization in another capacity, their contributions cannot be overstated.
One of our volunteers is an excellent example of what can be accomplished and why volunteers are so important: Donna started volunteering with us in September 2016, a few months after retiring from a senior Human Resources position with a major corporation. She knew she wanted to volunteer in support of veterans and military families, because her husband is a Vietnam veteran and a Purple Heart recipient, and their son serves in the Florida National Guard. After learning about Hire Heroes USA, Donna went through training to become an Outreach Volunteer at our headquarters office in Georgia. Within the first year of volunteering, she completed 250 hours of service. To put this in perspective, that equals over six 40-hour workweeks, and it’s one of the most significant time contributions we’ve had from a volunteer!
Outreach Volunteers follow up with Hire Heroes USA clients by phone and email to check on a number of things, including: need for additional services, number of applications submitted, progress with interviews, etc. It can be a tedious job, but Donna sees the value of her work: “Each client is unique – where they are in their transition and employment journey, their skills and motivation,” she says, adding, “Connecting with them for a productive outcome is energizing and fulfilling to me. I enjoy being part of the Hire Heroes USA team, a great group of committed and professional people.”
The exciting part of being an Outreach Volunteer is confirming a hire and learning about the success of someone who has spent weeks or months looking for work. “It’s satisfying to connect with a client who has just landed a job that meets or exceeds their expectations, who gives Hire Heroes USA credit for the services and support to make it happen,” Donna explains. She would know. Within her first year of volunteering, Donna identified 55 hires!
Even without the pleasure of confirming a hire, Donna knows the importance of the work we do: “From my past experience, I know that our military, veterans, and spouses have a rich array of valuable skills and experiences that civilian employers are hungry for, yet – without the correct translation – the transition can be challenging. Hire Heroes USA helps clients to successfully bridge the gap from military to civilian life.”
Donna’s experience in Human Resources adds to her value as an Outreach Volunteer. When she speaks to a client on the phone, she can offer insight on the employer’s perspective, which is valuable information for any job seeker. Donna points out, “Some of our clients only know the military, so the career coaching, resumes and advice from the staff is invaluable (and free of charge!).”
It’s humbling to work on behalf of veterans and spouses who are so deserving of our assistance. We also have the pleasure of working with volunteers like Donna, who find the time to give back to clients they may never meet face-to-face. She finds the volunteer work rewarding, too. “Helping thousands of clients achieve employment each year is an outstanding accomplishment, and we’ve been growing this number year-over-year. And coupled with a 4 -star rating from Charity Navigator, this is an organization with which I’m proud to be associated!”
Donna was recently recognized at our first-ever American Patriots Gala for her outstanding volunteer service with the Above & Beyond Award, recognizing a volunteer that has made a substantial impact to the organization beyond what is required or expected. We applaud and thank Donna for her service to our nation’s veterans, military members and their families. Hire Heroes USA is strengthened by the hundreds of volunteers who support us.
To Donna and all of our volunteers on this Thanksgiving Day, we thank you for choosing to make your community and world a better place.
Written by Hire Heroes USA’s Michele Wiesner, Director of our Volunteer Program