For Naval District Washington (NDW) personnel looking to get involved in service projects, the NDW Community Service Program offers a range of opportunities and is currently looking for volunteers.
The Community Service Program is designed to provide volunteer services to organizations and events out in the communities surrounding military installations, said Olivia Hunter, the program manager.
“One of our biggest projects that we’re working on is the ‘Star Spangled Spectacular’ in which we are actively recruiting 200 active duty members to be part of that, in which they will form a cordon for the 7,000 students that will be coming in for the largest living flag project,” Hunter said.
The living flag project, scheduled for Sept. 9 at Fort McHenry outside Baltimore, will feature thousands of students and teachers dressed in red, white and blue forming a flag in commemoration of the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812.
Other upcoming events include the Day of Remembrance, where Hunter and other volunteers will clean and landscape the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, as well as National Volunteer Family Day in November to visit retirees and veterans at the Armed Services Retirement Home.
“We always have something going on in the community,” Hunter said. “I think volunteers are special people because they do things from the heart. They’re there because they want to be. They’re there because they want to make a difference in somebody’s life. They want to make a difference in the community. I think it’s great that the Navy is probably one of the most community-oriented branches that’s out there.”
While balancing her role as the Community Service Program manager with traveling to take care of relatives with health issues, Hunter still finds time to volunteer her spare time, and recently returned from Des Moines, Iowa, where she and her husband Bruce coached the Fort Meade Highsteppers track and field team during the 2014 American Athletic Union Junior Olympics.
“One of the things that I like to do is practice what I preach,” she said. “I coach as a way of giving back to the military community.”
This year marked a record for them, as the Hunters took 30 children from the Fort Meade area to the Junior Olympics, in which many of them medaled.
“My mother used to always say, ‘If you ever want to stay young, be around children,’” said Hunter. “One of the things that I’ve found is there is a lot of truth to that, because children will keep you laughing.”
Hunter encouraged anyone thinking about volunteering to experiment with different causes they care about and see how the programs fit.
Formed in 1992 by then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Frank B. Kelso, the Community Service Program consists of five flagships: health, safety, and fitness; personal excellence partnership, project good neighbor, campaign drug free and environmental stewardship.
“If you have an opportunity to volunteer, jump at it,” Hunter said. “It’s an excellent way of a person broadening their horizon.”
For more information about the NDW Community Service Program, visit http://cnic.navy.mil/regions/ndw/about/community_services.html or call Olivia Hunter at (202) 433-6854.