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Volunteer opportunities abound for Peterson junior enlisted personnel

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Airman 1st Class Erik Cochran, left, and Airman 1st Class Andrew Klegraefe, center, help a visitor find clothing at a More Than a Meal event. Members of Team Pete get involved in the community by volunteering with the organization and others through the Junior Enlisted Association. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Airman 1st Class Erik Cochran, left, and Airman 1st Class Andrew Klegraefe, center, help a visitor find clothing at a More Than a Meal event. Members of Team Pete get involved in the community by volunteering with the organization and others through the Junior Enlisted Association. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Andrew Revier, left, and   Airman 1st Class Davis Walker, serve food to homeless and hungry people during a More Than a Meal serving. Junior enlisted members of Team Pete volunteer in the community with several organizations, often through the Junior Enlisted Association. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Andrew Revier, left, and Airman 1st Class Davis Walker, serve food to homeless and hungry people during a More Than a Meal serving. Junior enlisted members of Team Pete volunteer in the community with several organizations, often through the Junior Enlisted Association. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- One day each month about a dozen junior enlisted personnel from Team Pete join up early Saturday morning and head out to volunteer, handing out food and water to homeless people through the More Than a Meal program.

“It’s extremely fulfilling,” said Airman 1st Class David Garcia, 21st Dental Squadron, coordinator of the base More Than a Meal efforts. “I’ve been part of food pantries where you sort out food, but with More Than a Meal you see the end result.”

He said volunteers serve a meal and provide other items to the people who come through the program, but they provide something a little more intangible as well.

“We give them hope and encouragement,” Garcia said.
Staff Sgt. Heather Bishop, 21st Dental Squadron, volunteers for MTM too. When she was preparing to locate to Peterson Air Force Base, finding community involvement opportunities was something Bishop actively sought out.

“I’ve been part of the less fortunate,” Bishop said, “so helping the less fortunate appealed to me.”

Like Garcia, Bishop also finds volunteering to be fulfilling.
“Usually the people who come through the line are so grateful,” she said. “They express it so much and tell you that you are ‘doing a great thing out here.’”

Garcia came into contact with MTM through the Junior Enlisted Association. Leaders of the program were looking for a consistent, long-term relationship with a volunteer group and Garcia wanted to open the opportunity to help to fellow members of Team Pete.

“(MTM) seemed like they needed help more,” said Garcia. “I wanted the Airmen to see the impact they have on the community immediately. And we do (have an impact). We can see it on their faces while we are there.”

Helping local organizations is a way for Airmen to be involved and still enjoy the rest of the weekend.

“I applaud these airmen who come out,” he said. “Because it’s 7:45 a.m. on a weekend and I know they want to sleep in.”

Volunteers help set up, hand out clothes, shoes, hygiene items, and serve a meal. Volunteers are encouraged to interact with the people they serve, lending an ear and an encouraging word or two, Garcia said.

“If you are trying to find fulfillment, this is it,” Bishop said. “The biggest thing is knowing you made a difference to somebody. The happiest people are people who help others.”

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui