News: Charities touch federal employee hearts
Story by Sgt. Sarah Enos
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCORD, Wash. - In February 2001, an unknown degenerative condition in the cerebellum started with allergy like symptoms. Summer began with the loss of vision and closed with using a cane. The fall welcomed a walker and the winter a wheelchair. Shortly after was a bedridden state and then death.
If a phone call for help were made, how much would someone really be willing to give?
For Master Sgt. Brent Riffel, section support chief, 62nd Maintenance Squadron, experiencing the abrupt illness and death of his mother-in-law's unknown degenerative condition and now his Army retired father-in-law’s recent diagnosis of leukemia, has made him more aware of the uplifting charities available to help his family and him through their hardships.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord launched its 2012 Combined Federal Campaign Oct. 9 in an effort to raise awareness about nonprofit organizations and provide federal employees an opportunity to contribute to the program of their choice.
With more than 200 nonprofit agencies, the South Puget Sound CFC is about 90 percent military which is almost exactly the opposite of the neighboring North Puget Sound.
“Charities are in and around us,” Riffel said. “They are underneath our feet and wherever we go. You might not realize it, but I guarantee that within any number of blocks of where you are sitting, in Tacoma or Olympia, you name it, there is an organization out there that is looking to help somebody. Whether it is financially, educationally, someone with a drug problem, disease, death, divorce, it’s all out there.”
After arriving to JBLM on compassionate reassignment orders, Riffel worked as a CFC executive representative during last year’s campaign.
“What I like about the CFC is that there are so many different organizations,” Riffel said. “That was part of my learning experience when volunteering as a representative for the CFC.”
Melanie Manista-Rushforth, the director of the CFC on JBLM, said that people in this area still recognize the importance of donating money and time, whether their own jobs are in jeopardy or not.
Last year, all across the country, the United States Postal Service had many layoffs and plant closures.
“The postal service was kind of turned upside-down,” Manista-Rushforth said. “In our region, the big postal plant in Tacoma was supposed to close. This area’s campaign donations were up by 20 percent, which was unheard of.”
“I think when people realize that they are fortunate enough to have a steady job and paycheck, while others do not, it pushes them to give more and to help people in need,” Manista-Rushforth added.
Last year the federal employees in the South Puget Sound raised $1.36 million and about 40 percent of that stayed locally after Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Tom Cole, a member of the CFC Local Federal Coordinating Committee, focused on putting the word out about local agencies.
“I think that this is a huge stride for the CFC and the service members on JBLM,” said Capt. Rachel Davis, Army project officer for CFC, JBLM. “Hopefully we can get up to 50 percent of the donations to stay locally this year with inside the wire agencies.”
The installation has not set a specific amount of money to raise for the organizations in the CFC.
“We don’t set a monetary goal because the goal of the CFC is 100 percent quality contact,” Manista-Rushforth said. “I think we can probably raise more than we did last year.”
Each unit has a CFC representative trained to make you aware of organizations in the 2012 Charity Listing pamphlet and answer questions about how to donate.
“There is a lot more to the CFC than some guy coming to your office asking you to give,” Riffel said. “Whether you are sacrificing monetarily or you time, it really helps.”
Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Combined Federal Campaign is currently in progress through Dec. 15. To donate, contact a unit representative or donate online at http://www.cfcgive.org/.