Spotlight on Service: Marissa Tarulli

Author: TAPS

To say that Marissa is busy is definitely an understatement. She’s a full time junior at George Washington University (GWU) and is involved with their Veterans Student Initiative. She’s also a Squadron Commander in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC), a member of the Arnold Air Society, and a part time employee in today’s workforce.

So how in the world does she get around to volunteering, and why does she do it? Marissa admits that the most challenging thing about volunteering is “finding the time to do it, making the extra effort to make it a part of your schedule.” However, she isn’t one for taking the easy path in life, as she’s aspiring to be a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force. For Marissa, the reason she finds the time is heart, or as she puts it, “seeing how much it means to the people you’re helping. It’s about giving something of yourself which seems so little, but makes such a positive difference for them.”

During her sophomore year at GWU, through their Alternative Spring Break program, Marissa discovered TAPS and fell in love with the organization. She realized she had found inspiration with TAPS that would keep her around for years to come.

Although she’s never lost a loved one in military service, Marissa understands the importance of taking care of military families. She feels that she cannot ignore the families, as they play such a vital role to the success of our military men and woman who are serving or have served our nation.

For nonprofit organizations, first impressions are lasting impressions and are vital to recruitment and retention. Volunteers and donors alike want to know that their contribution, whether it is time or money, will have a positive, lasting, and meaningful impact on those being served. Marissa was immediately captivated by TAPS. “I truly just fell in love with the mission and the people TAPS is serving,” she said. Since her first volunteer opportunity with TAPS, she feels she’s been welcomed as a part of our community. That’s why TAPS is the first nonprofit she mentions when people ask her about volunteering.

Since her initial introduction to TAPS in 2011 through GWU’s Alternative Spring Break program, Marissa has been a major volunteer advocate in the student body. That year she volunteered at the TAPS Honor Guard Gala and ran for TAPS in the Marine Corp Marathon 10K race. During the summer, when time permitted, she dedicated three days a week to assist with administrative tasks in the TAPS National Headquarters. One of her projects was assembling and binding the Peer Mentor Manuals, used nationwide at our regional seminars.

With the start of 2012 came a new round of volunteer opportunities for Marissa. She again participated in the Alternative Spring Break initiative, assembling resource kits for TAPS. She also formed a group of her AFROTC colleagues to volunteer at the 2012 TAPS Honor Guard Gala, assisting with registration and table placement. It didn’t end there; Marissa continued to organize groups for our 18th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar as well as both the Army Ten Miler and the Marine Corps Marathon, our two largest Run and Remember events.

When asked about her continued service to TAPS after graduation, Marissa says she’d like to be a Good Grief Camp Mentor.

Marissa’s advice for new volunteers, wherever they may serve, is “don’t get discouraged during your first volunteer opportunity regardless of where you go; keep trying for opportunities, and you’ll find one that’s near your heart.” For Marissa, the mission that is near to her heart is TAPS.