With more than 80 annual events for job seekers and 51 Military Spouse Professional Networks hosting monthly meetings, Hiring Our Heroes wouldn’t be able to serve our military community without the help of our volunteers.
From the special event staffer who registers job seekers to our Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones leads, our volunteers work behind the scenes to ensure that every Hiring Our Heroes event runs smoothly.
“We have done five overseas events in the last six months and we couldn’t do it without our local volunteers,” said Director of Career Summits and Virtual Events Marnie Holder.
Volunteers help with venue setup and then register job seekers at our Sport Expos before tearing down the employers’ informational tables inside the arena concourse.
“Our volunteers are amazing because not only do they give of their time freely, but their passion to support our veterans is second to none,” said Director of Traditional Events Kathryn Poynton.
A Critical Component to Military Spouses Finding Meaningful Employment
Air Force spouse Meredith Smith started volunteering with the Military Spouse Professional Network (MPSN) in June 2016. Smith credited her feelings of isolation as the reason why she formed a military spouse networking group.
“I felt like I had no community to discuss the things that were front of mind for me: career challenges, hopes, and successes,” Smith said.
After connecting with Hiring Our Heroes, Smith agreed to lead a network in Nevada. Smith now organizes monthly events for military spouses and explains the untapped resource of the military spouse talent pool to local business leaders.
The Military Spouse Professional Network relies on an army of dedicated volunteers, like Smith. Serving more than 24,000 professional military spouses through local networks and virtual groups, this program would not exist without its volunteers.
“MSPN leads are true professionals and servant leaders, dedicated to supporting their fellow military spouse community through professional development and networking opportunities, all while serving as advocates to local businesses and military service organizations,” said Lindsay Bradford, manager of the Military Spouse Program.
As the Davis-Monthan MSPN Outreach Coordinator, Amber Flores attends multiple networking events and community meetings each month. Her efforts are paying off for both MPSN members and herself.
“As a military spouse and Air Force veteran, having that network to bounce ideas off of and grow with is important. I didn’t realize how much of my professional self was lacking until I had such an incredible team around me to grow with,” Flores said.
Flores said she’s learning new skills through her volunteer role.
“While it’s nerve-racking (to be speaking to a room full of strangers), it’s also very energizing that I can do my part in bridging the gap between military spouse employment and our beautiful Tucson community,” she said.
An Estimated $167 Billion in Economic Value
The 2018 Volunteering in America report found that 77.34 million adults (30.3%) volunteered last year, according to federal study conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The study showed that altogether, Americans volunteered nearly 6.9 billion hours, worth an estimated $167 billion in economic value. Parents volunteer at rates nearly 48% higher than non-parents and working mothers give more time than any other demographic, with a volunteer rate of 46.7%.
Blue Star Families found that 65% of its Lifestyle Survey respondents (that includes active duty, veteran, and military spouses) participate in volunteer activities.
Sometimes the effort is a single volunteer leading a MSPN at a remote duty station, but the majority of the time, it’s a team effort.
That’s the case at the recently formed network at Travis Air Force Base where six military spouses are working together on a leadership team to reduce military spouse unemployment and underemployment in California.
“MSPN is a bottomless source of inspiration, motivation, resources, creativity, and friendship,” said Aleksandra Johnston, MSPN Travis Community Relations Chair.
A Way of Paying It Forward
Volunteering is a thankless job and many times our volunteers don’t see the rewards of their efforts. Yet, they continue to try to make an impact within their communities.
“It’s a process, right? I feel pretty good about the fact that somebody got an interview,” said Army spouse Stacy Miller. “An interview is absolutely a success for me because we helped facilitate the process of building a resume and getting it through the red tape and to the right people. When there’s a hire, that’s a bonus.”
Miller spends on average 20 hours a month helping to facilitate Tampa’s MSEEZ “lunch and learns.” She encourages military spouses, especially ones who are currently working, to volunteer with Hiring Our Heroes.
“If you have a job, then pay it forward by being open to assist with introductions in your company or your industry,” Miller said. “Think about the next military spouse that is going through the same kinds of things that you have gone through and pay it forward to them.”