MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Philomena Pridgen began volunteering for the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society in 2007 as a way to pass time, but after learning the society’s mission she could not turn back.
“I began volunteering with the Navy Marine Corps Relief society in 2007 at the Pensacola, Fla., office,” she said. “I had a friend in Florida who volunteered as a caseworker with the NMCRS and recommended the society as a great place to volunteer. After learning about the society’s mission and the programs it offered, I was hooked.”
The NMCRS is a non-profit organization established to help service members in need by offering financial assistance and educating service members about financial management and planning. The society’s staff is comprised mostly of volunteers. More than 25 volunteers augment only three paid staff members at Cherry Point’s NMCRS, said Pridgen.
“Volunteers are essential for the NMCRS to carry out its mission,” said Pridgen. “Without the help of volunteers, Cherry Point’s NMCRS would never be able to reach, educate and provide assistance for the number of service members that we do.”
Along with volunteers, donations play a large role in keeping the NMCRS afloat to assist service members. The NMCRS active duty fund drive runs throughout the month of March across the naval services, educating Marines and Sailors about the society, and raising essential working capital for its operations through donations.
There are different options available for donations during the fund drive. The preferred, convenient and most error-free way to donate is through an allotment. Marines with an end of active service date greater than three months from when the drive starts can log onto Marine Online and set an allotment to support the NMCRS. Paper form allotments are also available and can be obtained through unit representatives. Additionally, anyone interested in making a donation can log onto www.nmcrsfunddrive.org and make a one-time donation via credit card or set up an allotment. Finally, cash and check donations are also accepted. Contribution forms should be filled out in every case to keep track of command credit.
“We rely solely on [donations],” said Pridgen. “The active duty fund drive is a large source of our donations and is very important for the society to accomplish its mission.”
Additionally, the NMCRS has several volunteer opportunities that help accomplish their mission ranging from client service assistants to volunteers who crochet blankets for babies. Volunteers can also help conduct classes and briefs about budgeting.
“The volunteers are the heart of the society,” said Carol Aquino, a NMCRS volunteer, who crotchets blankets for the society. “This community will always be close to my heart and that’s how it’s been since I got here because of the staff.”
Aquino has worked closely with Pridgen since coming to Cherry Point and says Pridgen helps the society by keeping an upbeat spirit with volunteers and service members.
“Her support is just wonderful,” said Aquino. “She has a way of talking to the service members that makes everyone comfortable. She’s just been a pleasure to work with.”
Pridgen, a Chesapeake, Va. native, volunteered in Florida for six months before transferring to Mississippi with her husband, who is a Marine, and then to Cherry Point in 2010.
“When we first got to Cherry Point, I was looking for a way to get involved with the community, so I decided to come back to the NMCRS,” she said. “I've been volunteering at this office ever since.”
Pridgen’s volunteer efforts and time with the society led to her selection as the Chair of Volunteers for Cherry Point’s NMCRS in February 2013.
“I was, and still am, honored to have been chosen to lead and mentor the wonderful group of volunteers at the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society,” said Pridgen.
As the Chair of Volunteers, Pridgen must mentor new volunteers, review volunteer interest forms and meet with service members.
“I think the best part of volunteering is educating service members about their finances,” said Pridgen. “For me though, the most rewarding part of volunteering is when a service member is able to change and improve their financial situation based on the tools and knowledge that we helped them learn.”
To support the NMCRS with a donation, contact your unit representative or go to www.nmcrsfunddrive.org. Those interested in volunteering or learning more about NMCRS programs can call the NMCRS office at 466-2031 or email email@example.com.