Pearl Harbor Sailors Raise Thousands of Dollars for Relief Society
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Johans Chavarro, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Detachment Hawaii
PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, presented Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) representatives with a ceremonial check during an NMCRS fund drive ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), June 11.

Commands throughout JBPHH raised $439,264 through Sailor contributions and command-organized events like car washes, bake sales and similar activities.

Williams recognized the hard work of the fund's coordinators during the ceremony, attributing the success of the 2014 NMCRS fund drive to the publicity driven events, which helped raise awareness and reinforce the need for NMCRS.

"Raising more than $439,000 during this tough fiscal environment is something truly noteworthy," said Williams. "Today, more than ever, people are mindful of where their money is spent and you've effectively communicated to them of the benefit of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society."

Williams said that just how the Navy and Marine Corps responds to a call to action, the Navy-Marine Corps Society has been equally effective when called upon by Sailors and Marines, a sentiment echoed by Paul Belanger, director of Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Pearl Harbor.

"What's important is because it's a fund for the support for Sailors and Marines, then it stands to reason that the money comes from Sailors and Marines," said Belanger. "So the fact that they're willing to contribute that much money speaks well for what NMCRS does and the services that they offer. It's a matter of pride to us that we must be addressing some serious needs."

Belanger went on to explain the significant role NMCRS plays as a resource in the wake of an unforeseen event or emergency in a Sailor or Marine's life.

"I like to compare Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society to an insurance plan, but a very special one," said Belanger. "It's an opportunity for Sailors and Marines to put some money aside in the event that there's an emergency they have a fall back and they have some place to go."

Nearly 90 percent of the NMCRS' workforce is comprised of volunteers who provide financial assistance and counseling, quick assist loans, education assistance health education and post-combat support, advice on how to budget for a baby, emergency travel assistance, disaster relief and thrift shops for Sailors, Marines and their families.

NMCRS began in 1904, when several Naval officers, wives of Naval officers, and civilian friends saw the need for more formal and organized assistance. NMCRS was incorporated on January 23 of that year. Initial funding came from the proceeds of the 1903 Army-Navy Football Game and in its first year, the NMCRS gave $9,500 to widows and families of enlisted men.
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