By the time Beverly Jackson arrives at the United Service Organizations of North Carolina Center at the Soldier Support Center each morning, the coffee is already brewing and the Girl Scout cookies have been laid out just so.
The lights are on and the computers are ready for use, said Jackson, assistant director of USO-NC Fort Bragg Center.
For that attention to detail, Jackson said volunteer Michael Kaminski has become “an asset in so many ways.”
Kaminski, a retired chief warrant officer 3, intelligence officer, who retired in 1996 after more than 20 years of service, began volunteering at the Fayetteville Airport Center in October 2011. A year later, he transferred to the USO of N.C. on post because it was a cheaper commute from his Pine Valley home, he said.
As of 11 a.m., March 12, Kaminski had accumulated 1,000 volunteer hours.
Kaminski, or “Chief,” as he is known to fellow volunteers and USO customers, makes copies of orders for Soldiers, issues assignments to the computer room, answers phone calls and generally does whatever is necessary to make the lives of Soldiers easier.
If supplies run low, he makes a list and gives it to the staff, Jackson said.
In a sense, Kaminski is repaying the kindness shown him during his days as a Soldier.
“Whenever I would travel, I would always see if there was going to be a USO close by,” Kaminski said. “It was a place where I could get information if I was new to the area; something to drink and eat, perhaps, a place to wait. It was like using an airliner lounge except you didn’t have to have a membership. Your membership was your uniform or your military ID.”
Being a volunteer is something that Kaminski seems to relish.
“I get a good, good feeling out of it. I just like being around the military. Having been a Soldier for over 20 plus years, it’s hard to break the habit — I still wear my hair short,” said Kaminski who often engages Soldiers in conversation to keep abreast of how things are going in today’s military.
One of the advantages of being at the center is having the opportunity to meet Soldiers from across Fort Bragg, from the 82nd Airborne Division, to civil affairs, from transportation to Soldiers who have a medical military occupational specialty, he said.
Also, factor in the fact that the center is open on training holidays and four-day weekends, Kaminski said that as many as 4000 people visit a month.
Besides helping Soldiers, Kaminski likes working alongside fellow volunteers and staffers, whom he describes as some of the nicest and most considerate people to know.
One of Kaminski’s hobbies is traveling to New Hampshire to see his best friend and traveling around North Carolina to Wilmington, the Outer Banks and Raleigh, though he soon plans to visit his brother in Arizona.
“I’m not a cold-weather buff — some place where it’s warm, that’s where I like to travel.”
For all his travels, Kaminski seemingly brings his own warmth to the Fort Bragg USO of N.C. Center.
“He’s a funny man. He makes our day entertaining,” said Kimberly Hepburn, an Army spouse and USO volunteer. “For him to dedicate his extra time to volunteer at the USO, I think it’s a wonderful thing,” she said.
“I’m not sure what we would do without him,” Jackson said.
For more information about the USO of N.C. at Fort Bragg, follow them on Facebook at USO North Carolina Fort Bragg/Fayetteville, visit http://uso-nc.org/our-centers/fort-bragg-center/ or call 495-1437.