Marine Corps Family Team Building is scheduled to hold a volunteer fair aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Jan. 24. This volunteer fair will allow Marines aboard the air station to learn about both on base and local organizations, and volunteer opportunities. It will be held at Afterburners from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This will be the first of four volunteer fairs scheduled to be held in 2017. The fairs will give Marines a chance to meet the coordinators and leaders of the organizations and network within the community.

"There is a saying that is often said in military communities," said Paula Dyson, the volunteer coordinator with MCFTB. "‘Bloom where you are planted’ and it is so true. You didn’t join the Marine Corps to survive this duty station or this enlistment, but to thrive. That means doing great things beyond the front gate of base. That means going out into the community and making a difference in our community and really, the entire world."

The MCFTB volunteer program is a resource for Marines to discover volunteer opportunities on base and in their local communities. By volunteering, Marines can learn and practice real life skills, fill in gaps in resumes, network, receive recognition, and become invested in their local community.

Marines also volunteer with their spouses and children. It serves as an inexpensive way to have fun and bond with their families.

"We are surrounded by a great community that genuinely wants our Marines to be a part of it, and not just as a labor force," said Dyson. "I think that volunteering reduces feelings of isolation and gives Marines a sense of belonging. It makes them feel like they are really contributing to something beyond themselves. There are so many great programs out there that are really making a difference."

The volunteer program allows Marines to register with their email to be notified directly about volunteer opportunities. It also teaches Marines how to log their volunteer hours on the internet to receive credit.

"A lot of the organizations we work with really take care of our Marines," said Dyson. "They provide Letters of Appreciation and a good networking contact. The skills and connections they make through volunteering provide good resume material."

One of the on base organizations Marines can volunteer at is the Lifestyle Insights, Networking, Knowledge, and Skills program as a mentor who teaches classes from their own Marine Corps Experience. The mentors who teach the classes teach Marines, spouses, kids, and teens about the military lifestyle and how to acclimate to it while meeting others who are in the same situation.

"The LINKS program was originally created by spouses for spouses," said Dyson, "But since then it has grown. Now we have volunteers who are active duty and they are able to share and teach from their own experiences. It also makes a difference to the people in the class when the information comes from an active duty Marine."

Marines and spouses can take a class to become a LINKS mentor to share their experiences and teach about how to overcome challenges in the military life. They also teach about the resources available to militafamilies, all while accruing volunteer hours. The mentors also learn job skills and can use Dyson as a reference on resumes.

"I started volunteering to explore what I enjoy doing and what I might want as a career after my Marine Corps service," said Lance Cpl. Cassandra Ellis, a ground support equipment technician with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31. "I signed up for the volunteer coordinator program emails and since then I’ve been working with two organizations. I think it’s just a good way to gain some experience and do something you enjoy."

The volunteer coordinator program helps Marines discover how they can better themselves and get involved with the community. There are many volunteer opportunities for Marines in the upcoming year of 2017. To sign up for the volunteer coordinator program emails contact Paula Dyson aboard MCAS Beaufort.