Family-oriented Teacher Uses Adventure to Unite and Inspire Veterans and Those in the Armed Forces

Daily Point of Light # 7695 Nov 30, 2023

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Claudia Sweger. Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

Since 2012, Claudia Sweger has served as the director of programs for the Foundation for Exceptional Warriors, a national organization that provides cost-free adventures for warriors wounded in combat and their families founded by her husband who was a wounded special forces soldier. Claudia helps plan many of the logistics for FEW, which has helped offer thousands of veterans’ adventures throughout the United States, Canada, France, New Zealand and the African continent at no cost.

With FEW, Claudia helps promote healing and community for families impacted by deployment and war. She coordinates all of FEW’s family and wife events, arranges travel and accommodations, sends thank-yous to donors and more.

What inspires you to volunteer?

A lot of different things inspire me to volunteer, but the biggest things have to be being able to make a difference in the lives of others, being a part of something bigger than myself, getting involved with those who need assistance and getting the opportunity to see someone smile.

Claudia coordinates all of Foundation for Exceptional Warriors’ family and wife events, arranges travel and accommodations, sends thank-yous to donors and more.

Tell us about your volunteer roles with the organization you’re a part of.

I have been volunteering with the Foundation for Exceptional Warriors since it was founded back in 2012, so for over ten years now. In my role with FEW, I plan, coordinate and run all of the family and spouse events for the organization. I also assist with arranging travel and accommodations for the Warrior events throughout the year and help with fundraising.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

The most rewarding part of my work with FEW is definitely seeing the positive impact we have on the lives of the Warriors and generations of families. I love getting to see the smiles on the children’s faces and watching families reconnect after wartime.

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?

Volunteering is best known as an act done for the benefit of others, but that’s not to say you can’t take away a lesson or two along the way. These lessons could shed light on the principles of doing good, the community in need and even yourself. Everyone has a story; when volunteering for a community in need, you come to realize that every person has a story of who they are and how they came to be where they are. While it’s important to remember that each person has their own unique narrative, it’s just as important to respect, appreciate and take the time to understand this narrative.

I’ve also learned that small changes can have a big impact. As a volunteer, you come to the understanding that simple actions can have a big impact. No act of kindness is too small! Volunteering also brings with it a deep appreciation of all that you have in life and helping those in need is a firm reminder of what really matters — like family, friends and health. It’s not uncommon for volunteers to see their own lives in a different light, perhaps taking notice of the small things or moments that bring them joy.

Volunteering is also a learning experience. As a volunteer, you never stop learning. Developing new skills, discovering new passions, gaining new insights about yourself and the world around you — volunteering covers it all. Volunteering can mean learning about different communities, organizations and fields as well as learning more about yourself. And once you’re a volunteer, you’re always a volunteer.

Putting aside the fact that doing good is scientifically proven to lead to more good deeds, volunteering is an experience that stays with you forever. The fulfillment that comes with helping another human being, the satisfaction from knowing you’ve made a difference and the good old fun factor are just a few reasons once is never enough.

Any advice for people who want to start volunteering?

Think about what matters to you and be selective about where you spend your time. Choosing opportunities that make you feel good while helping others builds stronger communities and enriches your own life at the same time.

Why is it important for others to get involved with causes they care about?

Volunteering your time to support a cause that you are passionate about is something you will never, ever regret. It will enrich your life, familiarize yourself with your community and connect you to people and ideas that will positively impact your perspective for the rest of your life. For me, volunteering brings people together and fosters a true sense of community and belonging. Individuals forge bonds with fellow volunteers and community members by actively participating in community-driven initiatives. These connections not only strengthen social ties, but they also promote empathy, understanding and unity.

Foundation for Exceptional Warriors, is a national is organization that provides cost-free adventures for warriors wounded in combat and their families

Tell us about future partnerships, programs or events that you are excited about.

I seriously get so excited about all of the events I help with throughout the year, but the family events are my favorite. We have our annual Warrior Family Beach Week in Dauphin Island, Alabama, coming up in the springtime in March. This will be our seventh year to host the event for our families. I hold this particular event pretty close to my heart as it was how our family events got started. Watching the families reconnect after deployments, seeing the smiles and hearing all of their laughter together really warms my heart.

What do you want people to learn from your story?

The Dalai Lama once said, “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” Be that pebble! Make a difference! You won’t regret it.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Claudia? Find local volunteer opportunities.


Madi Donham