As a Marine Corps veteran who counts more veterans in her family, Marilyn Jones is volunteering to honor and remember veterans, helping her community understand their stories to make sure veterans aren’t forgotten, their service and lives valued.
As a volunteer with the National Veterans Memorial and Museum (NVMM) in Columbus, Ohio, Marilyn, a 64-year-old Columbus, Ohio resident, had volunteered more than 1,500 hours of her time over four years. Marilyn is recognized as an expert on museum content and is positively impacting her community, veterans and civilians alike, through service.
What inspires your volunteerism?
There’s a lot of family members who come in, especially family to now-deceased WWII veterans, who didn’t have a chance to talk about their service and lives, and the family is now seeking ways to connect with that person. A lot of us do that. We neglect the time while we’re living to share experiences with each other. You can see how important it is to share stories with another person who appreciates it. Helping to keep someone’s memory alive so that their loved one isn’t forgotten is critical.
Describe your volunteerism with National Veterans Memorial and Museum (NVMM).
As a lead volunteer, I coordinate with other volunteers and staff. I greet guests, help them navigate the museum and answer questions about exhibits. Sometimes, I even help people find information on their veteran family members. I’ll offer ideas on how to search, or suggest different organizations that may be able to help depending upon where, what branch and what time frame their veteran served.
Share one personal story with me from your volunteerism.
Sometimes, someone will have memories of a loved one that may bring them to tears. Whether they were a veteran or not, it’s really important to share that moment with someone who has lost someone. I love anytime someone finds a personal connection within the museum. It makes me feel happy to be there when people are enjoying the museum, (laughs) and it puts a smile on my face to see people looking at the exhibits and sharing stories. That’s what it’s all about.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
We all need to share to help support others or to help make their lives better. Whether you get paid or not, you want to do your best, but if you’re able to serve for free it is better because it doesn’t put a burden on others.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
Doing things that are important to others helps you feel better about yourself. You don’t volunteer to make yourself feel better, but that’s just a fringe benefit of helping others.
What does Memorial Day mean to you?
We have two more recent exhibits in the museum and they help to emphasize that Memorial Day isn’t about family cookouts or ball games; it’s about remembering those who gave their lives in service to our country. This Memorial Day, I will go to the museum and put in hours to help people learn about the experience, share their stories, and then I will go to the picnic, but I’ll wear a shirt to remember that it is Memorial Day and the purpose of it.
In one word, what does volunteering mean to you?
How can readers help?
Please visit the National Veterans Memorial and Museum website for more information about how you can help.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Marilyn Jones? Find local volunteer opportunities.