• Volunteer finds time for several organizations

  • This is the fifth and final article in a series about volunteers who support the post.

    • email print
  • Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
    Volunteers are a vital part of the Fort Leavenworth community, giving tens of thousands of hours of their time and saving the post millions of dollars. This is the fifth and final article in a series about volunteers who support the post.
    Elesa Johnson said volunteerism is an important part of her life. Over the past year, she has volunteered with a broad range of organizations and services in the Fort Leavenworth community.
    “I feel as though I have always been volunteering. As a kid, I would tag along with my mom as she volunteered in our community and with the Girl Scouts,” Johnson said. “As an adult, I just found it was easy to say yes to opportunities to serve and always felt it was completely natural in most situations just to pitch in and help.”
    A licensed physical therapist, Johnson works at various medical centers and hospitals in the region, like Saint John Hospital in Leavenworth and Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.
    Her husband is Lt. Col. Michael Johnson, who is currently on temporary duty with the Combined Arms Center and will be assuming command of the 1st Battalion, 14th Aviation Regiment, at Fort Rucker, Ala., in June. They have three children.
    Somehow, Johnson finds time between her job and family to volunteer for several organizations on post.
    Connie Croft, president of the Friends of the Frontier Army Museum, said the Frontier Tribute Trail is a walkway and landscaped patio area featuring personalized engraved bricks in front of the Frontier Army Museum. Croft said Johnson’s leadership of the project was crucial to the effort.
    “Elesa has been a vital member of the 2016-2017 Friends board,” Croft said. “She is eager to help in any way and has excellent ideas to improve the quality of everything we do. Elesa has been a pleasure to serve with this year.”
    Johnson said she enjoyed coordinating the Tribute Trail brick project as a volunteer. She said the bricks are special tributes to affiliated organizations and loved ones.
    “Most of my (volunteer) positions this year are for a one-year period,” Johnson said. “But I have been volunteering and active in the Fort Leavenworth community since we arrived in 2013.”
    Johnson also supports the Army Community Service Waiting Families Program, producing activities like social gatherings for families of deployed soldiers and soldiers on unaccompanied tours whose families choose to stay at Fort Leavenworth.
    “I have facilitated the ACS Field Grade Spouse Seminar, which also provides participants a personal copy of the Field Grade Spouse Resource Binder,” she said.
    Johnson said facilitating Army Family Team Building classes has been especially rewarding.
    Page 2 of 3 - “The Army Family Team Building classes explore a wide range of subject matters relevant to military families,” Johnson said. “We cover everything from topics like military acronyms, time management, how to take care of yourself, leadership, to getting involved with the military community, volunteerism, knowing yourself and conflict resolution.”
    ACS Division Chief Janice Downey said the words compassionate, supportive, caring, intelligent, proactive, mentor, teacher, mother, volunteer, spouse and fun are appropriate descriptors of Johnson’s character as a volunteer.
    “As the spouse of the commander of the Special Troops Battalion, Elesa showed genuine care for the families of our deployed soldiers, as well as to those spouses of soldiers heading into command positions,” Downey said. “As an FGS seminar instructor, Elesa trained and mentored many spouses in the art of leading or the how-to in living our military lifestyle.”
    Downey said Johnson volunteered her time with the ACS Mobilization, Deployment and Support Service Program and created the “Walk off the Wait” program to bring the spouses of deployed soldiers together.
    “This program took a fresh approach to waiting for the return of their loved ones,” Downey said. “She also attended the STB quarterly briefings, providing insight to the struggle families face while their soldiers were gone away from home. She will be missed but not forgotten.”
    Johnson has also served as parliamentarian of the Fort Leavenworth Spouses Club. She said the organization works to improve the quality of life for its members, Fort Leavenworth, the surrounding communities, and the greater military. Johnson said FLSC also has fundraising events to help provide community assistance grants and college scholarships.
    “These organizations are very different, ranging from a group that provides education and resources to soldiers and families to one that strives to ensure the preservation of the Army’s frontier past,” Johnson said. “But, the one thing that all these organizations work toward is creating community.”
    Johnson said creating community includes developing synergistic relationships among the soldiers and their families on post, as well as with members of the greater Leavenworth area community. She said volunteers inherently interact with a diverse range of people.
    “This is what has always driven me to volunteer, helping others to connect and find their space to thrive,” Johnson said. “Volunteering is an opportunity for me to step outside of my professional specialty background and paid job description areas. My work has always fulfilled me, but volunteering can be edifying in a different way.”
    Marlee Marshall, a volunteer with the Fort Leavenworth Lancers swim club and close associate, echoed these sentiments about the difference volunteers make in a community. She spoke about Johnson’s positive personality and commitment.
    Page 3 of 3 - “Elesa works tirelessly for the betterment of the Fort Leavenworth community. She realizes the strength of our military lies in the strength of our families,” Marshall said. “She seeks out organizations with those goals in mind. Her personality is open and enthusiastic.”
    ACS Army Volunteer Corps Coordinator Mallory Carmichael said Johnson’s ability to anticipate the requirement of a particular service adds value to her efforts as a volunteer.
    “Elesa is always willing to help out in all programs at Army Community Service,” Carmichael said. “If it is something that is new to her, she will do the research and never let you down.”
    Johnson says that volunteering has a significant impact on the quality of life within a community. She recommends others volunteer as much as their time will allow.
    “Volunteering is an opportunity,” Johnson said. “It gives people living together in a community a chance to pitch in or share knowledge and experiences. The positive results often create a stronger bond between them and usually encourages support of each other beyond superficial relationships.”
  • Comment or view comments