Even after serving in the Army Reserve for more than 11 years, which included two deployments to Iraq, Capt. Maria Lucero still makes a difference in the community.

Lucero, who now works as a technical trainer at Fort Hood, volunteers her time as a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas Military Mentors Program.

“I’ve always enjoyed volunteering, and this has been a really enjoyable experience,” Lucero said.

The program is similar to other Big Brothers Big Sisters programs, pairing adult mentors with young children. The military mentor program was created to serve military-connected children and their families, including the children of active-duty service members and veterans and children who have had a parent in the military die.

After going through the organization’s rigorous application, screening and matching processes, Lucero was paired with a 10-year-old girl.

“We’ve done a lot of fun activities,” Lucero said. “We’ve got together and made jam, we’ve gone to the movies, and I took her to the (Killeen) Native American Pow-Wow.”

That’s not the only volunteer work Lucero does. She donates her time to work at animal shelters, and with the Team Read, White and Blue veterans organization.

“I love the experience,” Lucero said. “I think volunteering has really expanded my horizons in terms of getting to meet and work with different people.”

Lucero credited her military service with giving her the skills to be a good volunteer.

“In the Army, you meet all kinds of different people with all kinds of different personalties, and you learn how to work together with them,” she said.

Lucero advised others considering volunteer work to find an issue they were interested in or passionate about, and be sure they were ready to dedicate the time it may take.

“Be honest with yourself about the time you can obligate,” she said.

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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