When Becky Haire’s sons were both teenagers, she realized it was time for her to make a change. “I had been a stay-at-home mom,” she recalled. “I felt like it was time for me to get my feet wet again in the working world.”
Her husband, who spent 28 years on active duty in the Navy, suggested she volunteer with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. “I’ve always enjoyed being close to the Navy. It’s like family to me, so I started to work for NMCRS Mayport as a volunteer receptionist,” she said. Becky served as chair of reception for a year, then chair of volunteers for two years. Around that time, the Society transitioned from manually entered casework records to the automated Casework Assistance Program (CAP), and the bookkeeper position in every NMCRS field office was no longer required. However, during the transition period, “the office assistant found herself overwhelmed trying to juggle her job plus the record keeping and needed a temporary part-time person to help her out,” Becky explained. “I was asked if I would be interested, so I started out as temporary help until the CAP system was up and running. Needless to say, they eventually realized they needed someone in that position permanently and asked if I wanted the job – and I said ‘yes.’”
Later, when NMCRS Mayport’s budget counselor resigned, Becky was asked to work full-time, dividing her hours between office administration and casework. Since she is a full-time employee and in the office every day, unlike volunteers who often come in once or twice a week, Becky deals with clients whose situations are more complicated and can see the case through to resolution.
“It’s been wonderful to be a volunteer and then become full-time employee,” Becky said. “I believe what makes the Society great is the volunteers. The volunteers help keep us fresh in our thinking.”
Becky finds it easy to relate to young service members, recalling her own early days as a Navy spouse. “We were married a year when my former husband went to boot camp. I know what it’s like to be the wife with a baby of a newly-enlisted Sailor. I use my experience to help educate others about how to manage their finances.”
In fact, Becky and her husband were clients of the Society early on. “Back when my husband was an E5, we had purchased a house and, even though we had it inspected, the heat pump went out. My husband went to the Society to get financial assistance, so we could get it fixed. That’s when I first learned about the Society. But it wasn’t until I actually started volunteering that I understood the full scope of what the Society offered.”
Becky values the opportunity to help clients resolve particularly tricky and stressful situations. “When I was first doing casework, I worked with a couple who were expecting a baby. The ultrasound showed the baby’s heart wasn’t developing correctly. As soon as the baby was born, it would immediately need heart surgery, but there were no local specialists who could perform the surgery. The family would need to travel 90 miles away to Gainesville, Florida for the delivery. Unfortunately, Tricare insurance would not cover lodging for the family because the distance from their duty station to Gainesville was less than 100 miles. The family was under a lot of stress already and could not afford to pay for temporary lodging in Gainesville while the infant was recovering. To be able to ease their burden by helping them with lodging expenses was very rewarding.”
More recently, during a hurricane evacuation, Becky provided reassurance to many families who had never experienced a hurricane or evacuation. “The Navy ships have to get underway, and families are left ashore to evacuate ahead of the hurricane. We let them know we’re going to take care of them and help them get where they need to go to be safe.”
“What keeps me coming back is the people I work with—we’re more like a family than a team. When there’s a complicated case we work together to identify the best solution. Being able to interact with other people who want to help, knowing you’re going to make a difference to someone, is worth everything.”
Congratulations on 15 years of service to the Society, Becky!
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso