News: Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society to hold annual fund drive aboard MCB Hawaii
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - Prior to the kickoff of the annual Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society active duty fund drive, staff and volunteers aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii hosted an open house in building 4016, Feb. 21.
With more than 200 locations on Navy and Marine Corps bases worldwide, NMCRS assists eligible military-affiliated personnel including active duty service members, retirees and reservists in need of financial assistance or financial counseling.
The relief society offers interest-free loans, and can work with individual service members who need assistance in preparing a personal budget. The relief society also offers Budget for Baby classes, in which eligible patrons can learn how to prepare financially for the arrival of a newborn.
The NMCRS Active Duty Fund Drive runs from March 1 to April 5, though it may be extended at the commanding officer’s discretion. The relief society’s goal is to make 100 percent contact with potential donors and educate them about what it offers, according to Cheryl Milca, the NMCRS director. Each unit will have a representative to help disseminate information about the drive.
There are several ways to donate to NMCRS. Donors may stop by building 4016 during regular office hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Marines can donate through the Marine Online system and at http://nmcrs.org. Donations are accepted throughout the year.
The NMCRS relies solely on donations to provide financial assistance to its clients. Last year, NMCRS distributed $49 million worldwide. At Marine Corps Base Hawaii last year, the NMCRS served more than 900 clients, and provided them a total of $586,313.
The NMCRS has assisted clients in various financial situations. In one instance, the NMCRS helped a service member fly home when his ailing mother passed away.
Another service member was medically discharged and received financial assistance while being treated in Hawaii and planning his next move. Milca said the society also helps clients who need money for textbooks, or necessary automobile repairs.
Volunteer Katie Boyce, who trains client services assistants, added that the society is a “good steward” of money, so donors can rest assured their money is being used wisely.
“We’re going to make sure the money goes to the right people,” Boyce said.
She added that the relief society is not just a source of funding. The relief society also shows service members how to budget and directs them to additional resources on base.
“If they don’t leave with a loan, at least they’re leaving with an education,” Boyce said.
Volunteer Holly Brantuas, a caseworker with the relief society, has volunteered with NMCRS for three years in three different offices. Brantuas recalled how a previous relief society location contributed funds to a family who lost its house in a fire.
“Any service member who donates to the society can look around in their command and know for a fact that we have helped at least one, if not a handful, of people in their command with their donated dollars,” Brantuas said. “It’s a good way of supporting your peers.”
The relief society is also still seeking volunteers to be caseworkers, public speakers or Budget for Baby instructors. For more information, visit http://www.nmcrs.org or visit Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Kaneohe on Facebook.