The 2013 Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society active duty fund drive kickoff is celebrated with a cake cutting at Naval Station Newport in the Building 690 Atrium last Friday. From left, are Judy Kemper, NMCRS volunteer; Pat Drislane, NMCRS director; Chief Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Helen Sowinski, NMCRS fund drive coordinator; Capt. Douglas Mikatarian, Commanding Officer, Naval Station Newport; and Rear Adm. John N. Christenson, President, Naval War College. (U.S. Navy photo by Greg Kohlweiss)

NAVSTA Public Affairs Staff

March 7, 2013
Rear Adm. John N. Christenson, President of the Naval War College, kicked off the start of the 2013 active duty fund drive for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) in a ceremony last Friday in Building 690, Naval Station Newport. 

The annual fund drive, March 1-31, will support financial, educational and other programs provided for active duty Sailors, Marines, and their eligible family members in time of need. 

Christenson, a surface warfare Officer (SWO), described his close connection and affection for the Society that has lasted for many years. He said the four most important women in his life had connections to the Society as well as helping those in need.

“Being a shipdriver, a SWO, the four most important women in a SWO’s life were my mom, my wife, my daughter and my ship,” Christenson said. “My late mother, who was a Navy nurse in Newport, met my dad here, and was a Society volunteer.

“Some of my earliest memories growing up with five brothers while my father was deployed were of my mother leaving home to volunteer for the Society. It was something that really energized her. She really loved to help someone else,” he said.

When she died my father gave me her Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society service pin that she received for all her volunteer hours, he said.

“My wife, Theresa, who was in maternity clothes, also received a service pin for volunteering with the Society while in San Diego when I was a student at the Naval War College 21 years ago,” he said. She, too, came home so energized and happy that she was able to help someone else, he said.

Christenson’s daughter, Grace, who is away at college, has not volunteered with the Society, but served as the campus Toys for Tots campaign coordinator last year that was successful in collecting many toys for those in need.

Christenson said his first collateral duty as an ensign aboard his first ship, the frigate USS Cook (FF 1083), was the ship’s fund drive coordinator. Christenson said his hard work to promote the campaign didn’t impress the ship’s executive officer who always pushed him to beat a sister ship, the frigate USS Barbey (FF 1088).

Christenson’s hard work paid off when he learned that his ship exceeded its goal.

“For those whose lives the Relief Society has touched, every gesture, no matter how small, has had a tangible impact,” said Capt. Douglas Mikatarian, commanding officer, Naval Station Newport. “The Society’s programs are designed to take care of our most precious resource – our service-members – and their families,” he said.

Pat Drislane, director, NMCRS-Newport, thanked leadership for attending the kickoff and supporting the campaign.

Drislane said the NMCRS Thrift Shop on Peary Street served 5,000 patrons during 2012. She said her staff of 27 dedicated volunteers performed 4,000 hours of volunteer service at the thrift shop.
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