By Michael Norris, Pentagram Assistant Editor April 29, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - "Founded in 1904, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is a private non-profit charitable organization. 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," states the organization's website. "The society was incorporated in the District of Columbia and has its headquarters in Arlington, Va. It is managed by a board of directors whose members are active duty or retired members of the Naval Services or spouses of active duty or retired members of the Naval Services."
It's mission? "To provide, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, financial, educational and other assistance to members of the Naval Services of the United States, eligible Family members and survivors when in need; and to receive and manage funds to administer these programs."
While it accepts contribution to its programs supporting the Navy and Marine community throughout the year, the society is reaching the end of a six-week annual campaign encouraging active duty Naval and Marine personnel to contribute to the relief organization. Capt. Stephen Kwasniewski and Staff Sgt. Lucy Arruffat are managing the Henderson Hall campaign.
Kwasniewski said Marines have already been approached at the unit level and will receive a final push from Henderson Hall's command this week during an all-hands meeting at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Rosenthal Theater.
The goal, Kwasniewski said, is to exceed the amount of money raised last year, which was approximately $8,000. So far, he said the base had collected 75 percent of that number.
He said it's easy to contribute and that Marines can go to Marines Online to choose whether they want to donate.
"The purpose is to help those who are in need in a family crisis," said Arruffat of the program. "It provides help when unexpected things happen to you," Kwasniewski added. He said it's been a "godsend" to some Marines he knows, helping "get them out of a [financial] tight spot."
The captain explained how a panel assesses the needs of Marines applying for relief to determine whether their situation makes them eligible for a grant or loan. He said the organization also assists with "long-term issues," like financial planning, so that if a similar situation that contributed to them getting in financial trouble happens again, they will be able to deal with it better the next time.
"Giving should be an everyday occurrence," said Henderson Hall, Headquarters Marine Corps, Headquarters and Service Battalion Commanding Officer Col. Ira M. Cheatham. "The campaign reminds the Marines including myself, that we as a society and organization still need assistance and any amount counts towards the bigger picture.
"Marines should focus on the importance of contributing to a worthy cause, not the amount of the donation," said H&S Bn. Command Sgt. Maj. Craig D. Cressman.