By Brandon Bosworth, Assistant Editor, Ho`okele
Navy Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) held its 19th annual volunteer award ceremony April 15 at the Hale Koa Hotel to recognize commands and individuals for their contributions to the charity.
The event coincided with National Volunteer Week. Barb Sheffer, the director of volunteer services for the NMCRS, was the special guest.
“This ceremony allows us to honor and recognize our 100 plus volunteers,” said Paul Belanger, director of the NMCRS Pearl Harbor office.
Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific and honorary chair of the NMCRS Pearl Harbor office, spoke at the event and addressed the volunteers.
“You are the reason we are here today, and it is your dedication and accomplishments that we want to recognize,” he said. “It is not only what you do, but how you do it, that improves our quality of life that means increased quality of service that makes us more ready to deploy. The ‘how’ relates to the relationships that you created.”
In 2014, 126 NMCRS Pearl Harbor and Kaneohe volunteers contributed 19,196 hours of service. Their work included helping 142 clients go home on emergency leave last year as well as providing more than 1,000 quick assist loans to 878 clients who needed assistance with basic living expenses such as food, rent and utilities.
NMCRS helped 179 Sailors, Marines and retirees with family emergencies and provided financial assistance to repair 66 vehicles.
The Navy Marine Corps Relief Society is currently holding its annual fund drive, which has been extended until April 17.
“We’re really looking forward to enthusiastic donations, so we can wrap up this year’s fund drive nicely,” said Belanger.
Even though the fund drive is officially scheduled to end next Friday, NMCRS accepts donations all year long. For Sailors and Marines interested in having allotments taken out of their paychecks to go to NMCRS, the deadline for 12-month allotments is in May. However, allotments for shorter time periods are available throughout the year. To set up allotments, service members can contact their command’s fund drive coordinator.
The goal of the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society is to provide, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, financial, educational and assistance to members of the naval services of the United States, eligible family members, and survivors when in need.
Since it was founded in 1904, the society has provided more than $1.1 billion in interest-free loans and grants to more than four million active duty and retired Sailors, Marines and their families. It is sponsored by the Department of the Navy and operates nearly 250 offices ashore and afloat at Navy and Marine Corps bases throughout the world.