CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Whether it’s teaching English, helping newcomers or baking hundreds of cookies to share, Terry Owens enjoys every opportunity to volunteer in the local community.
Owens, a former soldier and wife of a U.S. Army civilian in Japan, usually lends a helping hand to several Army community service efforts here.
She regularly attends newcomer orientations, providing a friendly face and answering questions for people who may be overwhelmed after moving overseas.
“Camp Zama is such a small community and I think we all need to stand up and do our part,” she said. “I feel like true joy is [found] giving.
As part of Volunteer Appreciation Week, observed this year from April 17-23, the Army is currently highlighting those who selflessly take the time to make a difference in the lives of others.
The Army often relies on volunteers to keep services and programs running smoothly. In fiscal year 2020, for example, volunteers contributed more than 109,000 hours for the Army, which were valued at about $3 million in cost savings, according to facility officials. army.
Camp Zama ACS normally has eight volunteers, including Owens, who assist with special projects, programming and events on an ongoing basis, said Jennifer Partridge, its director.
“Volunteers are needed to support a range of community activities, especially in a foreign environment,” Partridge said. “Community organizations and activities that support the quality of life of our soldiers, civilians and family members cannot function without the support of volunteers.
Partridge said Owens brings a “welcoming personality” when meeting newcomer orientation staff.
“She has a vast knowledge of community activities and has immersed herself [herself] in Japanese culture and can provide insight into off-post activities,” Partridge said. “As a former military member herself, she can also relate to the experiences of active duty personnel who are stationed in a foreign environment.”
Partridge added that volunteering is a win-win situation for both the volunteer and the organization, as it can create a social bond and provide valuable experiences for those involved.
Being able to meet new people while giving back to the community motivates Owens to continue volunteering, she said.
In March, she helped organize and deliver a speech for a U.S. Army luncheon in Japan to commemorate Women’s History Month. She also made and distributed popcorn at USARJ headquarters for National Employee Appreciation Day.
Earlier this year, she began volunteering to teach English to Zama town government officials.
During Thanksgiving, she even helped prepare a meal for single soldiers. And for National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day last year, she baked 200 to 300 cookies which were then distributed to offices. here for the Spread Good Cheer operation, which ACS organizes during the holidays.
“I’ve never baked so many cookies in my life,” Owens said with a laugh. “It was non-stop [baking] about half a day.
Owens believes in treating people the way she would like to be treated. This “golden rule” philosophy can be replicated when people volunteer or do something that benefits the community.
“I feel like it creates a positive ripple effect because you end up doing something you love and the happiness is shared,” she said of volunteering. “I think people understand that [and] it creates a more positive environment all around.
An act of kindness doesn’t have to be a big, planned event. For example, while walking near a local train station one day, Owens noticed that some members of the United States Army new to Japan were lost. So she decided to show them how to buy a train ticket.
“It’s just little things like that that I think keep this community going,” she said. “If you can have that positive influence in someone’s life, then hopefully they will reciprocate.”
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