Southwest Human Development endeavors to strengthen the first five years of life in child development to help them get a great start in life.

In addition to their 900 staff, they also ask for volunteers. So, U.S. Air Force veteran Charles E. (Charlie) Werther stepped in.  “He hadn’t heard about the organization before, but his wife saw an ad recruiting volunteers to work a concession stand for an upcoming Spring Training game that would benefit Southwest Human Development.

She figured her husband Charlie, an Air Force retiree, could contribute. He contacted them, filled out the paperwork, and went to work.

Werther’s first assignment was successfully cooking 105 Dodger Dogs simultaneously, which he seemed to handle deftly.  His volunteer leader, Annette Sutfin, then asked him if he could help deliver books to local doctors’ offices, to which he quickly agreed.

Then one day, while volunteering at an event at St Vincent de Paul, he heard other volunteer leaders from their literacy program discussing their Reach Out and Read program.  They were mulling over their upcoming trip to deliver books to the pediatric clinic at Luke Air Force Base.  They were concerned about the hour or so it would take them to get through the military security procedures. Werther knew he could help.  He went over to the team and produced his military retiree ID card and informed them he could get on base in about a minute. “The look on their faces was priceless!” he said.

Werther says his volunteer experience at Southwest Human Development is inspiring.

“Helping to educate our young children is an extension of the training I learned in the Air Force. Each time I volunteer, I always try to do my best to improve their situation. There is nothing that any veteran who volunteers for an agency will ever be asked to do that you aren’t capable of handling,” he said.

Southwest Human Development is Arizona’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to early childhood development.  They have 900 staff members who provide 40 programs and services to 140,000 children, families, and professionals each year.

Volunteers can participate in just one event or stay on for the long term. Event volunteers can find upcoming opportunities on the SWHD website online at www.swhd.org/events/


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