We can all choose to make a difference. So many of you ask questions about forming a military related charity, but you DO NOT have to think that BIG! Making a difference can be local, immediate or personal.
I recently posted on Facebook: “I LOVE MILITARY SPOUSES.” That simple post received many likes and just made me happy. It inspired me to offer a few examples of simple ways that spouses have made a difference in their community.
My good friend, Lisette Clemons, is now the spouse of a retired Air Force Colonel, and they live in Colorado. While they lived at Ft. Myer, Virginia, Lisette became very involved with the Air Force Arlington Ladies. These wonderful women attend the funeral of all Airmen buried at Arlington Cemetery and represent the Chief of Staff and his (or her) spouse. Lisette was an Arlington Lady for over 4 years and she attended over 60 internments at Arlington. After settling in Colorado upon retirement, Lisette had an opportunity to share the story of Arlington Cemetery and the Arlington Ladies to a local women’s club. Lisette was a HUGE HIT! If you ever encounter Lisette, you will immediately discover that she is one of the most positive people, exuding warmth. So, it comes as no surprise that Lisette received numerous requests to present to other local groups. She has shared the Arlington Lady story with the Rotary Club, Denver Round Table and the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Lisette made a difference…
My good friend, Betty Harnitchek, loves to decorate for the holidays and to entertain people in her home. We met at Scott AFB while my husband was the Commander of US. Transportation Command. Betty is a retired Naval Officer herself, and she is now married to Vice Admiral Mark Harnitchek. Betty chose to embrace her new role as a military spouse she changed the landscape at Scott AFB. Her parties and her decorating became the hit (and envy) of the base. If you were invited to one of her parties, you DID NOT MISS IT! She made living on base fun and she united the whole neighborhood. After I moved away, I received notes from active duty Airmen who said they could see her outdoor decorations from a mile away while they were out running in the early morning.
Betty inspired others and created a warm and loving community. She continues to do the same thing here in the Northern Virginia area.
Betty made a difference…
Another friend of mine helped breathe life into two different spouse groups. Deb Arquiette was the President of the Air Force Officers’ Wives Club in Washington, DC and then moved to Scott AFB and became the President of the Scott AFB Spouse Club. Her unbelievable enthusiasm and determination created fun organizations at both installations. She did not HAVE to do either job, but she chose to because she is passionate about caring for spouse. She helped remind people that raising money and having fun are not mutually exclusive. Once, she invited Mary Engelbreit, a nationally known artist to speak at a monthly function. Deb’s enthusiasm inspired Mary to create 3 new military prints and to donate the profits from them to the Military Child Education Coalition.
Deb made a difference…
These wonderful military spouses are just a small sampling of all the good things spouses do every day. None of these people felt compelled or pressured to start a brand new organization, they dedicated themselves to something they loved and then shared that special gift with many others. In the process, I truly believe they have inspired hundreds of other spouses to make a difference.