FORT LEE, Va. – Prize raffles, shopping booths, travel and family support information tables, free refreshments and more are among the advertised offerings of the Fort Lee Area Spouses’ Club Super Sign-Up event set for Sept. 6, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., at Memorial Chapel.
All spouses of service members – active, reserve, retired or deceased – as well as government civilians and contractors are welcome. Bring the kids, offered organizers, as this is a family friendly event.
“The FLASC is celebrating its 11th anniversary of service to the community,” noted Chelsea Smith, the organization’s vice president. “We provide Fort Lee area spouses with a sense of belonging and feelings of purpose through social activities and involvement in local volunteer projects and outreach programs on Fort Lee and in the surrounding community.
“The club is particularly proud of its operation of the Fort Lee Thrift Shop, which generates funds that enable us to support local organizations – our grants totaled approximately $30,000 over the past year. We’re also awarding scholarships to local high school seniors and college students, to the tune of over $10,000 during our most-recent presentation in May.”
Further elaborating on FLASC’s volunteer activities, Smith cited the group’s annual support of the Holiday Helper program that provides free gifts for children of financially struggling military families. She mentioned items they have collected for local organizations and agencies such as the Fort Lee Stray Animal Facility, the Prince George Education Center and the USO, just to name a few.
“Some spouses are able to give back while broadening job skills as well,” Smith continued. “Those serving as a volunteer board member can gain experience in event planning, project management, teambuilding, maintaining a budget, marketing, publicity, website and social media design, and more. That could be a huge benefit to someone who is new to the job market or is amid an extended break from their career and needs current work experience for their resume.”
The FLASC equally shines as a morale-building community socialization platform, Smith observed. The organization conducts monthly luncheons at the Lee Club, outings to nearby restaurants and events, and trips to local attractions. Highlights from the 2018-2019 club year include a Kentucky Derby-themed luncheon, a service partnership with an area veterans equine rehabilitation facility, an “uproarious” social event with minute-to-win-it games for all, and afternoon viewings of a musical production presented by the Lee Playhouse theater group.
“An additional FLASC feature that has really grown in popularity over the past year is what we refer to as our ‘sub clubs’ – groups who get together to enjoy shared interests such as reading, coffee and conversation, hobbies, crafts or food,” Smith said. “The list of those activities includes our Bunco group, the Book Club, Brewers Delight (coffee group), Epicurious (dinner) Club, Lunch Bunch, Chatter and Scatter (children’s playgroup), BYOC (a crafting club), Click and Sip (photography and coffee), River City Explorers (activities centered in Richmond) and Outdoor Adventures (a group for walkers/hikers).
“We’ve got something for everyone.” Smith assured. “Additionally, the FLASC has members of all ages and stages of life. We have an active group of individuals whose spouse service members have retired here permanently and planted roots in this community. We have members who’ve been active duty spouses for many years and those who are brand new to the military community. We are privileged to have members representing all branches of the military.
“People tend to have this idea that spouses’ clubs are stuffy and boring,” Smith further observed. “However, this group is anything but that. Everything I have witnessed seems to be centered on the overarching message that no military spouse, male or female, should be sitting home alone feeling frustrated by, or alienated from, the community in which they live. The club also promotes a sense of involvement, opportunities to make new friends and take an active role in making the community better. ”
Club President Michelle Daniels echoed the thought. “I never thought I would want to belong to something like a spouses’ club until I moved for the first time with my military husband,” she said. “My kids were grown, I knew no one and felt very alone. Then I joined the spouses’ club. It instantly opened up a whole world. Now I can’t imagine not ever joining!”
Smith offered a final plug for the signup event, noting how its no-pressure environment allows spouses to check out the club offerings without immediate membership commitments. She also hopes male spouses will feel just as welcome as their female counterparts. She thanked the Association of the U.S. Army for its support of the event.