News: Families create friendships over dinner
Story by Cpl. John Suleski
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. - Family members of deployed Marines and sailors made connections with other people in the same situation over plates of spaghetti and salad at a dinner served at the Marine Corps Air Station New River Chapel, April 26.
The chapel holds the Deployed Spouses’ Dinner on the last Thursday night of every month to assist the spouses while their other halves are on the other side of the world, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Marc H. Massie, air station chaplain.
“It’s just something we do to try to help out the spouses who may be going through a tough time,” he said.
The dinner was a joint venture between the Catholic and Protestant sides of the chapel, said Massie. Marine retirees, Navy religious professionals and other volunteers make the food for the dinner.
The chaplain tried not to discuss religion after a prayer at the beginning of the event because he wanted everyone to feel welcomed. Instead, the family members conversed with one another to make new friends and strengthen current relationships.
“It’s a great way for families who might temporarily be single parents to find others in a similar situation and network with them to help each other out,” said Abigail Thompson, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269’s family readiness officer.
Thompson said she tries to get the word out about the dinner so all of her spouses of deployed Marines can benefit from the event.
Approximately 100 family members showed up to the dinner. Among them, Courtney Munroe, wife of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 airframe technician Cpl. C.D. Munroe, met with old friends and made connections with new ones.
Although Mrs. Munroe had reservations about attending the dinner because she thought she would not know anyone else, the event helped her gain confidence that she is one of many spouses with a husband or wife temporarily absent.
While the dinner is called the Deployed Spouses’ Dinner, it is also for children. Some children face hard times without their mother or father around, and meeting others in the same situation can help them cope, said Munroe.
“The children get to meet other kids whose mothers and fathers are doing the same thing their parents are doing,” said Munroe.
After everyone finished eating, the children ventured outside the chapel and did what children do best: play. Activities included playing tag, climbing trees and collecting pinecones for purposes only elementary school-aged children know.
When both children and parents feel better at the end of the dinner, the goal of the dinner has been met, said Massie.
For more information on future dinners, including volunteering to prepare food, call the chapel at 910-449-6801.