About Glenn: Originally from Hadley, MA, Glenn joined the Boston Cares community in 2015 and has logged about 50 hours with us so far! In addition to being a Volunteer Leader, he also serves as a member of our Associate Board. When he is not working as a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs, Glenn spends his time serving meals at New England Center and Home for Veterans or playing sports with kids at Newton Athletes Unlimited.
Support Those Who Have Served: Volunteer for Veterans!
Q: Why volunteer at New England Center and Home for Veterans (NECHV)?
When I signed up for the first time with the NECHV I knew that I’d have a good experience because Boston Cares does due diligence on each of their partners and on each of the projects. As a result, signing up for a new project is a pretty low-risk proposition. That confidence compels volunteers to step out of their comfort zones: even if you’re not well versed in a certain project then at least you can rest assured that it won’t be a complete administrative disaster.
Q: What is the most meaningful part of serving at NECHV?
The most meaningful part for me is the conversations that you have with folks with whom you wouldn’t otherwise cross paths – and there are plenty of beauties between the kitchen staff, my fellow volunteers, and the NECHV clients themselves.
Q: Why do you think others should volunteer at NECHV?
I think we live in a really strange time. Support for veterans – as measured by mentions on the campaign trail, by standing ovations at professional sporting events, and by their ubiquity in country lyrics – is absolutely sky-high. And yet, by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s count, there are some 40,000 homeless veterans; the average VA wait-time hovers near 50 days; and there are hundreds of thousands of veterans struggling, in one way or another, with their adjustment back to civilian lives and careers.
So at the same time as this fever pitch of glitzy enthusiasm persists there are volunteering opportunities going unfilled at veteran-related 501c3s that are hard at work actually solving some of these tremendously pressing problems. What’s more, I believe this veneration-without-participation actually creates an unhealthy distance between civilians and soldiers, a sort of celebrity-loneliness where civilians don’t feel they could possibly have anything to offer soldiers and likewise soldiers don’t believe they can be understood by civilians.
How do we chip away on this disconnect? I think Congressman Seth Moulton and author Sebastian Junger have the right approach in facilitating townhall meetings that create a space for veterans to speak and for all community members to come and listen. You don’t need to academically understand everything related to veterans in order to understand one particular thing about one particular person that would make them feel just a little more at-home in the world. After all, there’s no one such thing as “Veterans”; there are just individuals who each have their own unique experience and hurdles and hopes.
So why should you volunteer at NECHV? Not because it’s mind-bendingly complicated work. Not because you’re so unique and you’ve got such amazing skills. No, you should volunteer at NECHV because it’s fun and it’s convenient and most importantly because you can serve as a proof-of-concept for your friends so that they’ll volunteer too, helping march us one step closer to being part of an engaged community – a reachable goal that’d benefit all of us.
Q: Do you have any stories to share with us about volunteering?
What I’d really like is for readers to get out there and continue making their own stories. Just sign up, show up, and open up – the rest will take care of itself.
Want to get involved?
The New England Center and Home for Veterans is the nation’s first and largest veteran-specific homeless shelter. NECHV provides a wide spectrum of supportive services to homeless veterans that include housing, counseling, vocational training, job search workshops, living skills and health-related programs. You can volunteer to serve meals through Boston Cares by signing up here.
The Boston Cares Volunteer Spotlight features volunteers in action and the projects where they serve. Suggest a Spotlight story idea by filling out this nomination form.