Man and woman capture fox and man and woman release eagle.

Courtesy photos

Left: Volunteers with the Ohio Wildlife Center catch an injured fox kit in order to rehabilitate it and eventually release it back into the wild. Maj. Gwendolyn Hoogendoorn (right), a member of the Ohio National Guard, has volunteered with the OWC for more than 20 years. “I have always had a passion for the welfare of animals,” Hoogendoorn said. “My work started when I found an injured animal and brought it to the hospital. Watching the volunteer veterinarian carefully mend the creature’s leg melted my heart.” ~ RIGHT: Volunteers with the Ohio Wildlife Center — U.S. military veterans Gwendolyn Hoogendoorn (left) and Dave Wood — release a rehabbed bald eagle back into the wild Nov. 11, 2018, in New Philadelphia, Ohio, in conjunction with Veterans Day.

Video courtesy of New Philadelphia Times Reporter

Giving Back: Guard member volunteers at wildlife center

Story by Staff Sgt. Michael L. Carden, Ohio National Guard

COLUMBUS, Ohio (12/12/19)

For many people, more than 27 years of service to the nation would be enough volunteer work. For Maj. Gwendolyn Hoogendoorn, it was just a start. For the past two decades she has volunteered with the Ohio Wildlife Center, helping rehabilitate injured wild animals and getting them reintroduced back into nature.

“I have always had a passion for the welfare of animals,” Hoogendoorn said. “My work started when I found an injured animal and brought it to the hospital. Watching the volunteer veterinarian carefully mend the creature’s leg melted my heart.”

Since 1998, she has worked with almost all of the wildlife found in Ohio — including owls, foxes, raccoons and eagles, even bears. Currently she is a volunteer rehabilitator, specializing in neonatal orphaned wildlife.

Her military experience has contributed to her volunteer work, and vice versa, with the values of both influencing and improving her performance.

“Volunteering has taught me the true meaning of selfless service. It has taught me to genuinely care for something more than myself. The military has instilled the value of commitment, setting standards, recognizing my limitations and continuing to seek improvement.”

She urges all service members to find something they are passionate about to assist in their communities.

“Give back!” Hoogendoorn urges all service members. “No paycheck or material thing will ever be as gratifying as making a difference in the life of someone. One of the most gratifying aspects of the National Guard is serving my community.”

Hoogendoorn, a resident of Sunbury, Ohio, currently serves as a logistics, operations and plans officer with the Ohio National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters in Columbus. She has deployed overseas multiple times.

The Ohio Wildlife Center — with an animal hospital in northwest Columbus and an education center located in Powell, Ohio, just north of Columbus — treats more than 5,000 animals a year. It was founded in 1984, as a way to foster awareness and appreciation of Ohio’s native wildlife through education, rehabilitation and wildlife health studies.

Courtesy photos


Feciuch in uniform.

Making a difference by serving her Military Family

Sgt. 1st Class Kellie King Feciuch understands the challenges service members can face when they return from a deployment. She struggled to find her way after the first of two deployments. She discovered that her passion in life was to “connect service members and veterans with one another without the associated fears of stigma,” she said. “They want to be a valued part of their communities as they transition home. Our sacrifices are not limited to our tours overseas. We want to make a difference when we return.”


Staff Sgt. Patrick Williams stands in front of school

Living the Airman’s Creed: Citizen-Airman serves community, state and nation in variety of roles

From day one of Basic Military Training, one of the three core values instilled in Airmen is “service before self” — placing your service to others above your own self interests. Police, firefighters and National Guard members all seek to serve their community, and military service members can also serve their nation here and abroad. It’s not often that one person seeks to serve in all those jobs and more.


An Ohio Army National Guard Warrant Officer Candidate School student saws off excess material while his classmate steadies the wood.

Warrant Officer Candidate School class 'furnishes' community outreach for its class project

Ohio Army National Guard warrant officer candidates volunteered at the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio as part of the class’s community outreach project. The project aims to teach the candidates leadership skills as well as help the local community, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 James B. Camechis. “As National Guard Soldiers, after the weekend we go home and take off our uniforms and become part of the community,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important for us to help — because people look at us as leaders in our own communities.”