MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Six years ago, Philomena T. Pridgen was asked to go to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society with a friend who volunteered with the society. She willingly accepted and from that day forward has volunteered her time.
“I continued to volunteer because I found that there really was a sense of family here,” said the Chesapeake, Va., native. “It is a great place. There are a lot of spouses and people who are in your same situation, so it is a good family atmosphere. I have made a lot of friends here, and it is really great for me doing case work. It makes me feel fulfilled. It is very nice to use my degree but also help people in need.”
Volunteers play an important role in keeping the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society afloat.
“The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is a great place where I think anyone can pretty much find their niche,” said Pridgen, now the society’s Chair of Volunteers. “There are a lot of different opportunities depending on what your personality is and what you are looking to do.”
Opportunities for volunteers include client services assistants, caseworkers, communications leads and instructors for educational programs the society offers for budgeting and financial management related to major life changes including marriage and pregnancy. Volunteers can even help by crocheting blankets for a layette program.
Pridgen deals with a variety of clients and circumstances on any given day and said her daily goal is client satisfaction.
“I want clients to walk out of our office without having that burden of ‘I don’t have food for my family this month,’ or in emergency leave cases, a mother or father has passed away and ‘I can’t get home,’ type thing,” she said. “I think just having service members not have that burden on their shoulders makes me feel good.”
Aside from intangible benefits, Pridgen’s efforts are rewarded with some that are more concrete, including awards, activities and free childcare on the days she volunteers.
Last year, volunteers like Pridgen helped more than 1,200 Marines and Sailors, providing more than $625,000 in grants and interest-free loans paid for in part by funds raised during the air station’s annual Active-Duty Fund Drive in support of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
Cherry Point is hosting this year’s drive throughout the month of April. Service members can learn more or make a donation at http://www.nmcrsfunddrive.org or by logging into Marine Online at https://www.mol.usmc.mil.