DVIDS – News – National Volunteer Week

HARTFORD, Conn. – 936. That’s the number of plastic Easter egg volunteers from the Connecticut National Guard Service Member and Family Support Center collected and filled into a bin for the approximately 400 guests who arrived for breakfast with the bunny Easter last weekend, and that weren’t even all of them, there were still 1,064 more.

For more than 20 years, the Service Member and Family Support Center, or SMFSC, has organized this event. Although at the time it was much smaller according to Kim Hoffman, the director of SMFSC.

“We had mess kitchens, these long wooden buildings at camp back in the days before it was called Camp Nett,” Hoffman explained. “It was like 50 people and now it’s become this really big, really big event for us, one of many social events that we have throughout the year.”

This is the first time this event has taken place in-person in recent history due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s really the first big event for us back in person,” Hoffman said. “It’s good, I think people missed the opportunity to come together.”

To facilitate this, the SMFSC staff, which includes many volunteers, has taken all necessary precautions. To reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus, program volunteers have each been assigned a different, yet important role in mitigating risk factors and reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Volunteers worked diligently filling Easter eggs, blowing up balloons and making bright and decorative paper lanterns. This does not include serving the kitchens, preparing food for our military families, and being prepared to clean up syrup or any other mess that might arise when you have a room full of children. excited.

The end goal: to maximize the number of National Guard families who can get together, enjoy some Easter festivities, and possibly learn more about the programs and resources the National Guard has to offer, while making new friends. friends.

“Our intent with any of our social programs is to bring Guard families together to meet and expose them to the programs we have available,” Hoffman explained. “Our hope is that if you feel comfortable enough to come to an event, you might meet another family who could become a friend, so when your soldier is at AT (annual training), long school, or deployed, you’ve made a couple of friends, you’ve put faces to the names and things we email and maybe you’ll feel comfortable using a resource in the future that you might need.

Families dropped into the gymnasium of the Governor William A. O’Neill State Armory and were immediately met with garland-lined archways, decorated tables and colorful Easter baskets, all prepared and set up by the volunteers. The smell of food lingered in the air.

“Kids will choose the Easter basket of their choice,” Hoffman said. “They can have breakfast first, whatever, but then we have different resource providers who will be out in the field.”

Each of the programs under the SMFSC umbrella would have a station set up. Families bounced from station to station, children received gifts and treats, while parents or guardians learned about acquired benefits and options available to them and their families.

“The Child and Youth Program will provide information on available resources for military children, child care options,” Hoffman continued. “They (kids) will get bubbles, and parents will get quick information that they can read later about what the Challenge program (National Guard Youth Challenge Program) has to offer.”

None of this would be possible without volunteers. Hoffman would also go on to describe how the volunteers and their work with the SMFSC have continued to strengthen and build relationships between the community and the National Guard, whether at this event or any other event organized by the SMFSC.

“They have their different niches,” Hoffman explained. “Some volunteer with us just for our Christmas events, others are volunteers in the field of children and young people.”

Each volunteer would bring their unique set of skills and expertise to the table.

Some of our young volunteers provide a totally different perspective for a very unique part of our population,” Hoffman said. “A very sensitive and delicate age, I don’t think someone my age is relevant.”

Additionally, volunteering with the SMFSC has also kept the desire to serve alive in some of their past service volunteers.

“A lot of them, maybe, weren’t ready to go at 60, but they had to,” Hoffman said, speaking of some of their former service volunteers. “It gives them the opportunity to stay connected to something they loved.”

“That’s a huge advantage,” Hoffman said. “That, the workforce (the volunteers), gives us that extra exposure to families.”

Date taken: 22.04.2022
Date posted: 22.04.2022 11:43
Story ID: 419054

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Alicia R. Rucker