By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 18, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- With the myriad of clubs on Fort Rucker that benefit the installation, people would be hard pressed to find one that benefits their community as much as the Fort Rucker Community Spouses Club.
The FRCSC is a private organization on post that creates a platform for spouses in the Fort Rucker community to connect and serve through philanthropic projects, as well as give spouses the chance to meet new people and find volunteer opportunities to give back, according to Patricia Mathisen, FRCSC third vice president of communications.
"This gives spouses a chance to give back to the community that they live in," she said. "If you're looking for something at your new duty station, or even if you don't know what you're looking for, then start here because you'll probably find something that piques your interest."
Throughout the year, the spouses club takes part in various projects to benefit the community in which they live, and it starts with the Super Signup, which takes place today at The Landing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"This is our opportunity to recruit new people who want to get out and help with these various programs we host throughout the year," said the communications VP.
The biggest project the club takes on throughout the year is the HollyDay Bazaar.
"The bazaar is our major fundraiser for the year that brings in most of the revenue that contribute to the scholarships we give away at the end of the year," said Mathisen.
Last year, the club awarded more than $24,000 in academic scholarships to 28 high school and college students in the local area, and since 2001, the club has distributed more than $271,000 in scholarships.
"It's just one of the many ways we give back to our community," said the communications VP.
Another way the club gives back on the opposite side of the spectrum is through their Sweetheart Bingo project, which brings seniors from about 14 different senior centers in the surrounding counties together for a night of bingo and prizes.
"It's one of the events that we actually hold off post -- the seniors look forward to it every year and during the event we give away big donated items, like TVs," said Mathisen. "Everyone has a good time with the event."
Each year, the event, which happens in February, brings about 300-400 seniors for an evening of entertainment and fun, she said.
The Fairy Godmother Project is another program that exists to help those in need. This event started as a one-time a year event where formal dresses that were donated would be provided to students in need around the Wiregrass area, said Mathisen.
"This isn't something that is just limited to military families or families on Fort Rucker, but it's for all young girls in the surrounding communities," she said. "The chairs for that committee coordinate with guidance counselors at the local high schools and give them the information directly, so they can work on a kind of referral basis, so if they see a student in need, they send them our way."
That program evolved last year into another program -- the military spouse lending program, which exists for spouses to borrow a dress or gown for a graduation or any other formal event on post for just the cost of dry cleaning the dress.
"I'm getting ready for my husband's graduation in October, so I'll be borrowing a dress from the program myself," said Mathisen.
A new event is a homecoming event that the FRCSC will host this fall where high school students are invited to come to try on dresses that have been donated, and if they find one they like it's theirs to keep, said the communications VP.
"The students come and try on dresses that have been donated to us that they can take and wear to their school formals and dances," she said. "This is something we've never done for homecoming, so this is the first time they'll be doing this outside of prom season."
All of the projects and events that the spouses club takes part in are only possible through the volunteer efforts of its members, said Mathisen, adding that volunteerism is the best way to get the full benefit of membership in the club.
"When you're working on a project or volunteering at an event, you have the organic opportunity to meet new people because you're there working on the same cause with people in the same situation," she said. "I was able to meet veteran spouses through my experience, so there is a really nice sort of mentorship that happens when you join, and you're able to learn about other programs that you might not have heard about.
"The big thing I tell people is if you're hesitant to go be involved in something or attend an event, sign up as a volunteer because then people are expecting you to be there," said Mathisen. "That's the easiest way to meet people and make a difference."
For more information on the club or how to join, visit www.fortruckercsc.com.