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'Helping the Navy and Marine Corps take care of their own'
Active members of the Navy and Marines stationed in the Yuma area face unique financial challenges while in service to their country, challenges Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Yuma can help them overcome.
The non-profit organization is “committed to providing emergency financial assistance, education and other help to Marines, sailors, and their families when they have a need,” said Lora O'Hara, director of NMCRS Yuma.
“The Yuma office assists an average of more than 1,000 clients a year with interest-free loans, and sometimes grants, in times of financial emergencies. Grants are not repaid. The decision to give a grant or a loan is based on the service member's ability to repay, and their financial status.”
Sailors and Marines in the Yuma area seek monetary assistance from NMCRS to pay for essentials such as food, rent, utilities, vehicle repairs, vehicle payments and insurance, medical and dental bills, and personal or national disasters.
Without NMCRS, “our military members would not be mission ready,” O'Hara noted. “Their financial needs would overwhelm them to a point where their minds would not be on their job. Just think if you couldn't provide food or shelter for your family.”
The most popular program, accounting for more than 50 percent of the emergency financial assistance provided by NMCRS, is the Quick Assist Loan program which provides service members and their families up to $500 on short notice. The program was implemented in 2007 to combat predatory payday lenders.
The world-wide impact of NMCRS amounts to more than $48 million in emergency financial assistance per year.
NMCRS was established in 1904 when “there was no life insurance for service members,” O'Hara said. “When they died in action or peace, their widows and orphans were, many times, destitute. The Society used its first $9,000 to help 34 widows that year.”
NMCRS began with just one office. Now there are 51 full service offices and many smaller offices at small installations and onboard ships.
“A Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society office is located on every Marine and Navy installation around the world,” O'Hara said.
“Since its inception, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society has been working hard to provide quality of life services to the Marine Corps and Navy. We are committed to giving prompt, quality service to our clients and to the commands at MCAS Yuma.”
But to continue offering such services in the Yuma area, NMCRS needs more volunteers.
“Our need for volunteers is significant, since without them, NMCRS services become very limited,” O'Hara said.
“The current volunteer leadership is making a concerted effort to recruit new volunteers who will be ready to take over for volunteers leaving the area, following their military spouse to the next duty station, or winter visitors leaving for the season.”
More than “half our volunteers are spouses of active duty members and can expect to be at a duty station for 3 years or less, which means our volunteer workforce is renewing itself all the time,” O'Hara continued. “Recruitment is always a priority.”
NMCRS Yuma is seeking at least 15 new volunteers who will work an average of four to eight hours each week.
The volunteers will answer phones and perform other clerical duties “to assess the financial needs of our service members, process individual budgets, give good financial advice to prospective parents in a classroom setting, and to work in our Thrift Shop,” O'Hara said.
“We also have volunteers who work from home, knitting, crocheting, and quilting baby blankets. The blankets are included in a bag of baby items given free to expectant parents. All materials for blankets are provided or the cost is reimbursed.”
Volunteers are the backbone of the society, O'Hara added, noting over 90 percent of the NMCRS workforce is comprised of volunteers.
“The society could not function without their continued selfless, reliable, and compassionate giving of time and talents to those in need. These sensitive and caring individuals have formed an indispensable component enabling the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society to carry out its tradition of ‘helping the Navy and Marine Corps take care of their own.'”
NMCRS also accepts monetary donations to continue its mission of service.
“The society is not part of the military or government and does not receive any military or government funds,” O'Hara said. “All monies used by the society come solely from donations. All donations help us widen the scope of our assistance in times of financial hardship. Be assured, every contribution benefits active duty and retired Marines, sailors, and their families.”
For more information about NMCRS, log onto www.nmcrs.org.
For more information about how to become a volunteer or donate to NMCRS, call 269-2373 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.