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Headquarters Marine Corps

Reach Out 29

By Cpl. Heidi E. Loredo | Headquarters Marine Corps | July 29, 2005

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- There's no paycheck at the end of the day and no retirement or health benefits either. So why do people volunteer?

Volunteers' benefit by doing something that needs to be done and feeling good about what they've accomplished. Secondly, they benefit by making the world a better place for everyone whether the cause is social or environmental.

Reach Out 29, a local volunteer Reach Out 29 seeks volunteers

Service extends an open invitation to base personnel and residents to lend a helping hand to those in need of any assistance.

The volunteer program is uniquely structured to address the needs of families of deployed troops, elderly and disabled neighbors in the Twentynine Palms area.

Volunteers assist in the Twentynine Palms community with services such as friendly visiting, telephone reassurance, personal business help, shopping and errands, minor home repairs and yard work.

"All of our services are free," said Sandy Fleck, executive director, Reach Out 29.  "If there is a need and we have a volunteer to fill that need-we'll do it."

The organization, founded in 1998, matches volunteers with people who may need help with their daily life.

"Our program manager would interview a volunteer and help them find out what their dislikes and likes are," said Fleck. "This way we'll see what they can commit to, and we'll match them with one of our neighbors.

There are two pools of volunteers, on-call and continuous.

"For example if we get a call saying that a swamp cooler is not working then we'd send someone right away to fix it," said Fleck.  "An example of a continous volunteer is a friendly visitor which is scheduled once a week to visit for an hour or two with their match.

Reach Out 29 is open to all persons regardless of their income, gender, race or religious beliefs.

"Age-wise we understand military kids don't have their grandparents nearby so this is a great opportunity for kids to have grandparents in their life," said Fleck.  "Honestly their problem is they get so attached." 

Much of the help Reach Out 29 derives from Combat Center volunteers.  Not only are individual service members volunteering one-on-one to assist neighbors but units as well.

Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School continues their strong alliance with the volunteer service as Marines awaiting training often help out with a variety of projects in the community.

"Marines have been really great with flood victims," said Fleck.  "Two years ago we had a huge flood where all the houses were flooded or destroyed.  We had Marines out here doing clean up, and they were pulling wet carpet and shoveling it up.  The Red Cross can come and claim your house inhabitable and put you in a shelter, but they can't help you clean up your house."

Volunteering can also help forge strong friendships.

"We had a corpsman matched with a disabled man in his 50s and his older mother," said Fleck.  "He deployed and put all of his stuff in their storage. They kept in contact throughout the seven months and when he came back he got his stuff out of the shed. It was great.  They were sharing war stories since the older man had been in the military." 

Reach Out 29 was granted a vehicle in 2002 to provide safe and reliable transportation to medical, dental and social service appointments worth more than 2500 miles a month for medical.

"We've had pregnant women from base that have to go down to their medical appointments down the hill and their husbands are deployed," said Fleck.  "We take them if they need medical transportation. We go down once a week to Loma Linda, Arrowhead, the veterans hospital, Palm Springs and the Palm Desert area if they aren't supposed to be driving or if their car is unreliable."

Reach Out 29 hopes to gain more volunteers to assist those in the Twentynine Palms area who are in need of everyday assistance.

Anyone interested in lending his or her time and service can pick up an application at the office located at 6539 Adobe Road, across from the firehouse.  They are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 361-1410.


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