~ Sheila Stevens, Navy Spouse The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pitch in at the Hiring Our Heroes job fair in Los Angeles during their 2011 visit. ,W5XQVLQ WKH)DPLO\ Military family members of all ages find time for volunteering. %\0ROOLH%ODNH�f;0DULQH&RUSVVSRXVH Volunteers assemble care packages at the 14th Jack Daniel's/USO "Toast the Troops." T he road to success is paved with good intentions, or so the saying goes. But for Maddie Stevens, a Jacksonville, Fla., high school senior, it’s paved with good deeds. Lots of good deeds. “I made the choice to volunteer for Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and Blue Star Families because I want to give back to the community that helped shape and develop the person I am today,” said Stevens, who has logged numerous volunteer hours in support of military families like hers. Most recently Stevens, her younger brother and several other Blue Star Families volunteers handed out more than 500 books to local military kids. The chapter director who organized the Books on Bases event? None other than Maddie’s mother, Sheila, who says volunteering “has been rewarding and fulfilling” for the family. Volunteering for military spouses is par for the course. In fact, Blue Star Families found that 81 percent of military families volunteered in the past year—well above the average for civilians. Sheila Stevens began donating her time with Navy organizations, but admits she felt out of the loop on how war was impacting Army, National Guard and Reservist families. So Stevens sought out BSF when she and her navy aviator husband discovered they were PCS’ing to Florida. “I have learned so much,” she says, “about the sacrifices and selfless service of the many military families in the Armed Forces.” Sometimes it’s tough to find time for volunteer work amid the pressures of daily life. “I think the most amazing thing about the chapter director team is they volunteer in their communities while raising families, balancing work and school and enduring their own deployments and moves,” says Bianca Strzalkowski, deputy director of membership for BSF and our 2011 Military Spouse of the Year. 6((,1*7+(,03$&7 Janet McIntosh teamed up with AutoTrader to donate some 300 books, 50 blankets and nearly 100 backpacks to local wounded warrior, National Guard and Reserve families in Atlanta. As with the Stevens family, the volunteering gene runs in McIntosh’s family. “The best part was seeing my own children giving back to their peers,” said McIntosh, the Atlanta Blue Star Families chapter director. “I had an amazing feeling of pride watching them make blankets and book bags for other military children.” “I think military spouses and children are drawn to service whenever they see a need around them,” says Dr. Biden. “It’s truly inspiring.” Maddie isn’t hanging up her service hat just yet by the way—the honor student is applying to the United States Naval Academy. “She has always taken pride in being a military child and in serving her community,” said her mom. “Military children serve alongside their military parents,” Maddie says, “and we are stronger because of our service.” + 620$1<3(23/(�f; 620$1<352*5$06 Blue Star Families chapter directors (CDs), like Sheila, are the heart of the non-profit. They support military families through core pro-grams like Operation Appreciation, MilKidz Club and Books on Bases. They also earn ir-refutable career experience in logistics, public speaking, and strategy through presentations on post deployment re-integration, resume building and issues affecting spouse licensure and children’s education. “Volunteering is a great way to stay in touch and up-to-date with career skills at the same time you are making a huge difference in the lives of others,” says Dr. Jill Biden, mil-itary mom and grandmother. “And for mili-tary spouses who may frequently move to a new base or community, volunteering can be a great way to connect in a new place.” Debra Haan, Red Cross volunteer, sorts through candy to put into holiday stockings for the inbound patients at the Aeromdical Staging Facility at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. 48 MILITARY SPOUSE • OCTOBER 2012 • BASEGUIDE.COM ` Giving Back ` I have learned so much about the sacrifices and selfless service of the many military families in the Armed Forces.