Spouses Club combines teamwork, camaraderie
August 15, 2012
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- A "new" club on post is proving that two perspectives are better than one.
Recently, the Officers' Spouses Club and the Enlisted Spouses Club, both of Fort Drum, joined forces to create the Spouses' Club of Fort Drum.
For years representatives talked about combining the clubs, but the idea didn't become a reality until last year when the decision was made to do it, explained Mary Jansen, president of the new club and wife of Lt. Col. Derek Jansen, 10th Brigade Support Battalion commander.
"A lot of posts are merging clubs," she noted. "The reason we merged is because Fort Drum is so small and we were serving the same people while competing for resources."
Following the "strength in numbers" practice, the clubs have now become one.
"There's really no need for the separation since we have the same mission," Jansen said.
The purpose of the combined organization is to develop and foster a spirit of community responsibility at Fort Drum; to provide welfare, to provide opportunities for social, cultural, and creative pursuits; and to support worthwhile service and community projects.
An officer's life was not always the scene for the Jansen Family -- Jansen and her husband both spent time on the enlisted side of the house.
Jansen, who served six years in the service and has spent the past 20 years by her husband's side, boasts a wealth of knowledge when it comes to working with spouses and Families.
She noted her best qualifications to help lead the new club are her age and experience.
Jansen was approached by the OSC's former parliamentarian to be an at-large member on the board that rewrote the constitution for the now-combined enlisted and officers spouses club.
Each club originally had its own constitution, and Jansen noted it was a large undertaking to merge the two documents.
"Each club was a registered private organization on post. ESC dissolved, and we merged into the Spouses' Club of Fort Drum," Jansen explained.
The constitution contains the club's mission statement, bylaws, job descriptions and instruction on how to conduct day-to-day business.
"We didn't add anything new. We just took components of the ESC and OSC constitutions and took the best of both," Jansen said, noting it took hours to go through the constitution, word by word, making sure they were including the best elements from both constitutions.
What emerged was a 27-page document that was simplified and more user-friendly.
"We had some really good women working on the constitution," Jansen explained, noting each woman brought a variety of experience.
While tackling the mission and finishing the constitution, club members also are working on building camaraderie among the spouses.
"People will say 'us' and 'them' -- as in 'OSC' and 'ESC.' That's no longer. It's 'us,'" Jansen explained.
The OSC and ESC actually combined forces for the Christmas tree and wreath auction and the silent auction last year to "test the waters."
"It was just so much easier to split the money and split the work," Jansen said.
The money raised by the Spouses' Club of Fort Drum goes toward a scholarship fund, which awards individual scholarships to high school students as well as spouses who are going back to school. The amounts vary.
Once such scholarship, which Jansen said is special to her, is the Katherine Whittey Memorial Scholarship. It was created to honor Whittey, who was an OSC member and close friend of Jansen.
"What makes (this club) special is that we're bringing in women with loads of experience and we're combining our talents," Jansen said.
She also noted committee members are on a mission to make the club appealing to younger spouses.
"Everyone has these preconceived notions of the spouses clubs, so we just want to appeal to younger spouses, have them join and put them to work in the community," she explained.
For instance, the club will help the community by partnering with the SPCA in Watertown and asking spouses who attend a luncheon to bring an item for a pet, whether it is kitty litter, dog food or a pet toy. For those who would rather give back in a different way, club members will donate their time to the SPCA.
"We're trying to appeal to a wider base of our Families, and I think with brigades possibly deploying (soon), we need to get those spouses connected," Jansen said. "When choosing an organization to assist, the Spouses' Club of Fort Drum aims to find something for everyone to do."
Jansen said in her opinion, the combined effort was effective. Spouses' Club of Fort Drum members plan to hold the same events this winter.
The club will make its official debut appearance Aug. 25, when the members will host a Back to School Bingo event at Remington Park. Doors open at 10:30 a.m., and the event will begin at 11 a.m.
The event is open to youths in kindergarten through 6th grade, with age-specific bags for students.
Jansen explained that this "community event" is supposed to get Families revved up for the quickly approaching school year.
Parents / guardians must accompany their children, and the children must be military ID holders.
This is a free event; however, there will be food for purchase.
"This is one last thing Families can do before the kids head back to school," Jansen explained.
In May, the club will elect new board members, who will assume their positions in June. To be considered for a board member position, a spouse must be a member of the club in good standing.
Current Spouses' Club of Fort Drum members will recruit for membership during the Super Sign-up event Sept. 6 at the Commons.
"When I was working on the constitution, I became a big believer in it because you can't go wrong when you're serving military Families," Jansen said. "I think this year is going to be pivotal for the club. We have to do some teambuilding and get the word out there."
Anyone interested in joining the Spouses' Club of Fort Drum is welcome to sign up any time throughout the year. There is a $25 annual fee to join. Those who join after January are required to pay only half of the dues. Completed forms can be mailed or given to a board member.
For additional information, visit the club's website, www.fdosc.com, search for "Spouses' Club of Fort Drum" on Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.