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JBLM spouses help community share the wealth

Club donates $30,000 to local organizations

Northwest Guardian

Published: 03:10PM May 15th, 2014

Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s spouses have a history of sponsoring good causes, and continued that tradition last week by handing out $30,000.

The JBLM Spouses Club awarded grants to 22 organizations on and off the installation during base commander Col. H. Charles Hodges Jr.’s community update May 7 at Nelson Recreation Center.

Outgoing president Launa Brown said the top grantee was the Fort Lewis Family Scholarship Fund, which received $12,500. The 20-year-old fund awards college scholarships to the spouses and children of active-duty service members.

The club gave its second largest grant to Lakes High School’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, which received $3,971.90.

Senior Army Instructor Gerald Rosenbaum said the money is going to purchase new Army Service Uniforms for about 30 of his 240 students. Rosenbaum said Junior ROTC competes for funds with a lot of Department of Defense agencies and ASU’s are expensive. The money will go to replace the most threadbare uniforms.

“Most of my students have the Class A uniforms,” Rosenbaum said. “Those are pretty much shot. Some of them are really nasty.”

The new uniforms will be for students who go out into the community, Rosenbaum said. The retired lieutenant colonel said his program has a Care Team that visits retirement homes and centers. Those cadets can now wear full Class-A uniforms instead of the Class-B shirts and pants.

The other big recipients were the Tahoma chapter of the Gold Star Wives ($2,500); the local chapter of Club Beyond, a military community youth ministry ($2,000) and Santa’s Castle ($1,000).

Brown said the Spouse’s Club events, measured in contributions, were more successful than the previous year when it donated $22,000.

The main events were the holiday bazaar in November at the American Lake Conference Center, the Tour of Homes during the Christmas season, and March’s Wine and Cigar Night.

Wine and Cigar Night alone can pull in $10,000 to $12,000, Brown said, but the last Tour of Homes really drew crowds.

“We had 20 homes on that tour this year,” Brown said. “It was almost too many to get through in the time we had available in those two days.”

The club chooses recipients through its welfare committee, made up of five members, with the I Corps’ commanding general spouse and deputy commander’s spouse serving as honorary president and vice president.

The committee reviews applications in April, after the club’s last fundraiser, Brown said.

“The committee (asked) ‘if you had all the money in the world, what would you ask for?’” Brown said. “We tried to give to every single entity that asked for something, if they qualified.”