MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Cherry Point’s Single Marine Program continues contributing to various aspects of life for Marines and Sailors through volunteer opportunities and quality of life initiatives here.
SMP is a program for all single or unaccompanied active duty service members that focuses on three main tenets: quality of life, recreation, and volunteerism.
“Hundreds of Marines and Sailors are getting involved in the community through the program,” said Jen Merlo, the SMP coordinator here. “The SMP is a good outlet for Marines and Sailors to get involved, while exploring the community outside of the base in a constructive and positive manner.”
2015 marks the SMP’s 20th anniversary of service to Marines and Sailors, said Merlo. Participation in the SMP has grown exponentially at a steady pace, offering the Marines and Sailors of Cherry Point a positive experience in helping others and helping each other.
“The surrounding communities love the Marines,” said Merlo. “The events they participate in help build strong relations with the local community and teach the service members valuable skills and lessons.”
According to Merlo, in 2010, Marines and Sailors logged a total of 122 volunteer hours here. In a matter of five years, that number has exploded to nearly 29,000 volunteer hours. Those efforts alone made up one-third of the 88,845 total volunteer hours across the entire program, Marine Corps-wide in 2015.
According to Merlo, before the SMP was implemented, there was a need for Marines and Sailors to have a positive outlet to unwind, be social and remain involved outside of work.
“The SMP was established to improve the morale of Marines,” said Cpl. Clarence Moore, a heavy equipment operator with MWSS-274 and president of the SMP here. “Through the SMP, Marines and Sailors have the ability to directly communicate with their senior leadership. Issues Marines are having can be addressed more quickly, which in turn, boosts morale and boosts productivity.”
Additional benefits of the program include, gaining knowledge and furthering education through the experiences the Marines volunteer for, said Moore.
The SMP enables service members to volunteer at various events including the animal shelter, retirement homes and home builds, explained Moore.
“A crucial focus of the program is to ensure that all who are involved, especially the Marines and Sailors, are impacted in a positive manner,” said Merlo. “They benefit from the experiences, while those they help benefit from their continued service.”