INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey — The word “volunteer” is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service.”
In a given week, I’m asked three to four times why I volunteer my personal time as much as I do to organizations that are not my primary duty. The answer has and will always be the same: that the organizations I choose to give my time to are my passion, not volunteerism.
In the past year, I have given more than 400 hours of my personal time to organizations across Incirlik Air Base, but never expected awards or recognition for it. The reason being simply, I never saw it as work, but more as fun, laughs and a way to share my knowledge with the community we have built here at Incirlik.
As Winston Churchill once stated, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
My advice to any person wanting to give back to the community is to find something that you truly love, and use that as your inspiration. For example, I love working out, so I became a fitness instructor, which not only allows me to work out, but interact and pass on my love of cycling.
There are many ways to get involved at any installation around the Air Force; I just ask that when you get involved do it for yourself, not for a bullet. I know when I enjoy what I’m doing, the level of hard work and enthusiasm shines through. Those traits really are what show the individuals involved that you care.
A lot of my passion comes from a quote that has an unknown author, but has inspired me to go after what truly makes me happy, “Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress.”
Throughout my military career, these words have always remained in the back of my mind. Yes, I have received awards and recognition for organizations I’ve been a part of, but it’s not something that should be sought after. Volunteer because you want to make a difference in lives around you, and the rewards will follow.