“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Gandhi

How often do you hear people say how much they enjoy being part of something bigger than themselves or giving someone a helping hand? For volunteers, selflessness without any expectation of compensation not only provides them with a sense of purpose, but also comes with the satisfaction that they are making a positive difference in their community.

April was established as National Volunteer Month in 1991 as part of President George H. W. Bush’s 1,000 Points of Light campaign.

Paul Ward

“There can be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others,” said President Bush. “A volunteer is a person who can see what others cannot see; who can feel what most do not feel. The mobilization of volunteers across the country is an essential ingredient in making life better for those who have not had a shot at the American dream or did not have the quality of life that others have had.”

For those volunteering for the USS Midway Museum, their experiences are two-fold – continuing to give of themselves to the country they love, while sharing the historic legacy of America’s Living Symbol of Freedom with millions of visitors to the museum.

“The freedoms we enjoy today did not come free,” said Jim Reily, Midway’s director of docent programs. “They were purchased at great cost by the sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who have served our country over the past 250 years. Volunteers for the Midway enable us to preserve and honor the legacy of those who served, especially those who paid the ultimate price to secure those freedoms.”

“Volunteering has a way of providing enrichment to others as well as yourself,” said Paul “Chappie” Ward, who has more than 5,000 volunteer hours and supports multiple museum departments including docents, exhibits, curatorial and guest services. “The investing of one’s time, talent and energy for a cause that benefits others makes a lasting impact. Volunteering stretches you as a person resulting in growth.”

Midway volunteers are often referred to as the life’s blood of the museum. With more than 700 volunteers working in nearly a dozen different departments, this group, more often than not, is directly engaging with ship visitors.

“Volunteering is a contribution an individual should give freely and with a true desire to help a chosen cause and society in general,” said Phil Eakin, one of Midway’s volunteer research librarians who has been with the museum since 2006. “I enjoy the research involved helping another person find out more about their loved-one’s time in the Navy. I enjoy the very emotional responses and the gratitude people express for bringing them closer to their loved ones.”

Robin Paine

People volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s a chance to give back to their community, while for others, it’s making a difference in someone’s life or developing new friendships. For all, however, there is no anticipation of financial benefit.

“The volunteer mindset is so important to the strength and well-being of our communities,” said Robin Paine, a member of Midway’s volunteer outreach team since 2012. “Volunteering on the Midway is a win-win proposition. It provides me, as a volunteer, possibilities to learn about other cultures and points of view while having loads of joyful fun.”

Angie Ginn

“It is the important, selfless act of giving without expecting any kind of monetary gain,” said Henry Schrik, who has been a Midway volunteer for two years. “Like the other 450 docents, I enjoy telling our guests, from around the world, about the many Midway Magic stories of its more than 75 years as a warship and world-class museum.”

The museum is always eager to welcome new volunteers into their ranks. Scheduling flexibility allows volunteers the options to come any day of the week. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and able to volunteer for at least six months. Military experience is not required.

“Volunteerism is the backbone of this country,” said Laurie Switzer, director of volunteer programs for Midway. “Throughout American history, there is a common thread; citizens have rolled up their sleeves to help one another. We are all important in what we each can offer our community. That no matter how small, you can do something about the problems around you.”

“Most volunteers enjoy giving back to the community where they live,” said Angie Ginn, a Midway docent since 2004 with more than 32,000 volunteer hours. “It is most rewarding, and that is reflected in the way we welcome and help our visitors learn about what the Midway is all about.”

For those interested in becoming a USS Midway Museum volunteer, more information along with the volunteer application can be found at www.midway.org/give-join/volunteers.

Comments are closed.