***image1***Fisher Houses provide lodging and services to family members of injured troops, but that service depends on the help of volunteers.
“The volunteers make the Fisher Houses the homes that they are,” said Kathy Gregory, Fisher House manager. “They are the backbone of the operation.”
Volunteers provide transportation for family members to places like the commissary, exchange or nearby bases.
Another type of volunteer is the “in-house” volunteer.
These volunteers do the little things that keep the house in good working order. The little things include making sure the kitchen is in good order, making coffee, accepting donations and putting them in the proper place, emptying the dishwasher and putting up seasonal decorations are duties of the in-house volunteer. They also help out with landscaping needs.
“They give me peace of mind to know that all of the little things we want to do for our families are done,” said Mrs. Gregory.
There currently are four regular in-house volunteers and more are needed as a large number of these volunteers are in the process of changing duty stations. That loss will leave a void, she said.
One such volunteer who she will not have to worry about losing any time soon is Jan Beard, someone who gives the Fisher House 24 hours of her time each week.
“I enjoy being with the people here,” said Ms. Beard, who volunteers eight hours Monday, Wednesday and Friday. “It is a rewarding experience to do what I can to help.”
Ms. Beard spends a lot of her time writing thank-you cards to people who donate money or merchandise, such as paper goods, which always are needed.
She typically writes 60 per month. Talking to family members, however, is what she enjoys the most.
She loves just being there to lend an ear or a shoulder on which to lean.
“I am here to listen to what they have to say,” she said. “I offer words of encouragement and try to build a good rapport with them. It’s easy to do when you consider some of our family members stay here a long time.
“I just love what I do here,” she said. “I never get tired of it.”
During the fiscal year 2005, the Fisher House used 1, 809 volunteers who provided 4,119 hours of service. And Mrs. Gregory still could use more.