Become a volunteer, become a better leader
Marines exemplify many qualities in their everyday lives, but one of their most important characteristics remains their dedication to volunteerism—giving their heart freely to the base and community, giving the gift of their time and service with no expectations of personal gain.
Sgt. Major Charles Williams, Marine Corps Installations National Capital Region-Marine Corps Base Quantico sergeant major has been a huge proponent of volunteering in the local community since he enlisted in the Marine Corps 24 years ago. Although he had very little knowledge of all the opportunities the Marine Corps offered when he first enlisted, he quickly adopted the value of “life in service to country.”
Williams is a highly decorated Marine and has received various medals, but dear to his heart is the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, which he was honored with in 2008. Prior to Williams receiving the award he had many notable volunteer opportunities including doing lawn care, painting walls at nursing homes, building sleeping arrangements, spending time with children at an orphanage in Okinawa, Japan and mentoring elementary school children.
Williams began volunteering through the Marine Corps Adopt-A-School program while at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. The Adopt-A-School program offered Williams the opportunity to build awareness and support for community involvement in education by mentoring school age children, thus motivating them to set positive life goals and reduce their involvement in negative behaviors such as crime, drugs and violence.
“I was just serving because I enjoy helping others,” Williams said. “It was being able to be out among children and the elderly and seeing the smiles and appreciation of having someone around to care and speak with them that created the most memorable part of being at any duty station. It was simply about spending time talking with them, listening to their stories and helping them where they needed it the most.”
Williams believes beginning a career in the Marine Corps can be tough for many young men and women who experience frequent changes in duty stations. He also believes volunteerism can be a simple remedy to the problem.
He said when he first joined the Marine Corps, he knew little about what being in the military meant. Williams didn’t come from a military family or have any background information prior to service.
However, what Williams learned quickly as a young Marine is that becoming an effective leader requires helping those in need both inside and outside of the gate.
“Marines must humble themselves and get out and partake in volunteer opportunities because it can only help make them a better leader” Williams said. “If you go out and serve your community it will make it easier to go out and serve those you are leading. Marines will never understand the level of impact that they make on this nation until they get to know those they live in service to.”
Williams said if a Marine can’t understand the impact that they have on people by serving their local community, then they will have a tough time understanding the impact that they will have on the nation on a broader scale.
Volunteerism strengthens a Marine’s ability to serve on a larger scale because continued service to community is a representation of the continued mission to do something larger than themselves.
“When Marines go out into the community they have to understand that they are in representing the Marine Corps—the Corps’ values of “Honor, Courage and Commitment,” Williams said.
According to Williams, civilians may have minimal interaction with Marines and expect that, by reputation, Marines are of the highest caliber when it comes to moral and ethical standards. These individuals may already have a preconception that Marines are top notch and it is up to each individual Marine to live up to that standard.
The Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCBQ) Community Relations Office continuously offers opportunities to get Marines and civilians involved in volunteering in their local community. There are more than 753 Marine and civilian volunteers associated with the base.
2017 was a successful year for volunteering, with volunteers logging 5,882 hours of service and participating in 305 events outside of the gate.
If you are interested in volunteering contact the MCBQ Community Relations Office by emailing email@example.com or by contacting Installation Volunteer Coordinator Joyce Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know of someone who is an active proponent of volunteering within the local community, contact the Quantico Office of Communication at email@example.com, so we may share their story in a volunteer spotlight.