MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
German physician and Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer once said, “Wherever a man turns, he can find someone who needs him.”
This timeless quote is taken to heart at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune through the volunteer efforts of service members and civilians on base.
Operation Noble Heart, run by the Single Marine Program, is a primary way that those interested in volunteering can learn about opportunities on the installation or in the local community.
“We share information with on and off base organizations that are looking for volunteers, and then we have an information sheet we send them,” Michelle Dunkle, SMP volunteer coordinator and native of Azusa, Calif., said. “They fill it out and send it back to me. I review it, making sure there is community involvement and that the volunteers are part of the event itself and then we share it on our website and at our council meetings.”
Volunteer representatives from each unit aboard the base come to the monthly SMP council meetings and learn about the volunteer events, in turn passing it to their units and shops.
One volunteer representative, Sgt. Man Chan, Headquarters and Service Company training chief for 2nd Supply Battalion, won the 2013 American Legion Spirit of Service Award for his outstanding volunteer work.
The award is given annually to one service member per branch of the military, E-5 and below.
Chan, a native of Houston, Texas, completed a total of 527 volunteer hours in from 2011 to 2013.
“Sgt. Chan is beyond dedicated,” Dunkle said. “The last time I talked to him he picked up my list of volunteer events and said, ‘I think I’m going to go to all of these.’ It’s just what he does.”
Chan said he began volunteering within a few months of arriving at Camp Lejeune as a way to get out of the barracks.
“I was the new guy trying to figure out what to do at Camp Lejeune,” Chan said. “It got me out of the barracks a lot, and it was nice to see other people benefiting from it.”
He said that the enjoyment the event attendees received out of being able to come to the event made volunteering worth the effort.
“Every now and then you see a kid at a children’s event and they come and they aren’t sure what to do, but when they leave, they leave with a smile,” he said. “It’s been a great experience. It’s a way to give back – that’s the whole point of volunteering.”
The SMP volunteers will be helping the Splash of Color run coming to Jacksonville, Aug. 9.
For more information on this event or how you can volunteer, contact Operation Noble Heart at 451-0084.