WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
The spirit of volunteerism and a love for the military radiates from Karen Hunt. The daughter of a Marine, she considered joining the Air Force after high school but chose a civilian career instead. Since 2017, she has devoted countless hours volunteering to serve military members and their families.
Hunt serves the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base community in many ways. She can be found in the United Service Organizations (USO) at the Dayton International Airport or on base during unit training assembly weekends. Recently, she delivered chicken sandwiches to 445th Airlift Wing members and actively delivers items from the Wright-Patterson Main Exchange to quarantined pre-deployers here.
From where did this spirit of giving and volunteerism originate? Hunt credits her grandmother, Ola Mae Jordan Colvin.
“She taught me that we were created by God to serve each other and that it should be without seeking any type of reward for an act of kindness. She would provide clothing and food for those in need” Hunt said. “My grandmother had a beautiful spirit of kindness and I got my spirit of volunteering from watching and working with her as a kid when I would visit every summer,” said Hunt.
Outside of volunteering, Hunt works full time at Clark State College where she directs the Clark State Scholars Program. The organization targets middle school students who have the potential to be the first in their family to gain a post-secondary education. At present, the program selects eligible eighth grade students from Springfield City Schools, Graham local schools, Urbana City schools, Clark-Shawnee local schools and Tecumseh local schools.
Hunt believes the program has tremendous potential to help young people.
“We offer first generation students the opportunity to attend college. We get over 100 applications a year for the 80 student positions openings,” she said.
The selected students have strict school attendance, grade point average and citizenship expectations to remain eligible in the program. After completing four years and graduating from high school, they will receive up to three years tuition, room and board at Clark State College.
Hunt cannot run the program alone. The Clark State Scholars Program is in need of positive role models to guide these students and she believes Airmen can help fill those roles. Recently, when interviewing a student for the program, the young man mentioned that he would like to be a pilot one day but didn’t know how to go about it.
“This conversation really clarified for me just how beneficial the addition of military members could be for this program. Students have a clear idea who are positive and negative role models in their lives and service members can be positive examples,” Hunt said.
The time commitment to volunteer is reasonable. Mentors are asked to attend a training session and meet with their mentees once a month from October to May each school year. The program has adapted to the COVID-19 environment and now utilizes a mixture of in person and virtual meetings.
“(Airmen) are uniquely qualified to navigate these students through difficult times. I believe it would be worth a “million dollars” to the kids to have someone walk beside and encourage them to achieve their goals, she said.
Hunt encourages anyone who is interested to ask questions and consider volunteering even as little as one year at a time. Permanent change of station changes should not dissuade the decision to volunteer.
For more information on the program, please contact Karen Hunt at (937) 328-6079 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read about the program and apply online, please visit: