Blogger Biography: Cecelia Curtis is a marketing and communications professional with experience in the corporate, nonprofit and government sectors. She is also a proud military spouse. Cecelia’s husband of 11 years, Bryan, serves in the U.S. Air Force. Cecelia and Bryan currently live in South Florida, just outside of Miami.
I’m in a new city…again. My husband and I have been married for 11 years, and we’re on our fourth duty station. I can honestly say, though, that I’ve enjoyed every single place that we’ve called home. When people ask me what the best part about military life is, I say moving. Thanks to my husband’s Air Force career, I’ve gotten to see many parts of the world, and I’ve met some truly wonderful people. When people ask me what the most challenging part of military life is, I also say moving. Each move means that I have to say goodbye to my job, my friends and my home. It’s never easy, but I’ve learned that serving others during periods of transition helps me in four key ways:
1. It takes the focus off me. Making one big life change, such as moving to a new house, can be tricky. Making multiple life changes at once, like moving to a new city, changing jobs and leaving your family and friends, can be downright stressful. With so much going on, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and even get a bit down. Serving others can help, though. I’ve found that when I focus on other people’s needs, I stop thinking so much about myself and any stress or frustration I’m experiencing. Plus, it just feels really good to get out and contribute to my new community in a positive way.
2. It introduces me to new people. Being new in town can be a lonely experience, but it doesn’t have to be. When I touch down in a new city, I always think, “The sooner I meet people, the sooner I’ll make friends, and the sooner this place will feel like home!” Volunteering can be a great, safe way to meet people who share similar interests. Whether you’re building a house for a family in need, ushering at a local playhouse or stuffing envelopes at your kid’s school, you will probably have time to talk with others. These conversations can lay the groundwork for great new friendships.
3. It teaches me new skills. It doesn’t matter where I volunteer or what I say I want to do — I am always asked to do something that I didn’t quite sign up for. And I almost always say yes. I love learning new things, and I never know when a new skill will come in handy. I’ve learned so much on volunteer sites…how to hang drywall, new recipes, social media management and even TV and radio broadcasting! These skills have helped me both personally and professionally, and I learned all of this for free while helping others! I just had to be willing to give a little bit of my time.
4. It boosts my job search. It can be tough to find a job, particularly if you are new in town and don’t know anyone. Again, volunteering can help. As you’re focusing on helping others, meeting new people and learning new skills, you’re also networking. Filling out job applications is one thing, but there’s nothing more powerful than a strong network of people who know your skills and have seen you in action. In fact, I was recently offered a job by one of my fellow church volunteers. Of course, I wasn’t serving at church expecting a job in return, but what a pleasant surprise!
In short, moving is a part of military life, and each move has its unique set of rewards and challenges. Serving others as a volunteer can help make life in your new city more rewarding and a bit less challenging as you focus on others, grow your social circle, learn valuable new skills and look for a job. Still, I’ve found that what I love most about volunteering is that it just feels good. It feels great to put my skills and talents to good use helping others no matter where I happen to call home.