Like any military spouse, Angelica Botkin thought about her husband’s safety every time he climbed into the cockpit of a Navy EA-6B Prowler. “When people are under financial stress it’s hard for them to concentrate on their work,” she explained. “When I come to work at the Society, knowing we’re helping Sailors manage their finances, I feel better about my husband’s safety.”
Recently named director of Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) San Antonio, Angelica has volunteered with the Society since 1990 when her husband was stationed at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island in Washington State. “I’ve volunteered in all the possible positions at one time or another,” she recalled.
When the family PCS’d to California, they had four young kids, so Angelica was too busy to volunteer. But they eventually returned to NAS Whidbey Island and Angelica took up where she’d left off – volunteering with the NMCRS office. Then, after a European tour with NATO, Angelica’s family PCS’d to Washington, DC, where she volunteered at NMCRS Washington Navy Yard (WNY).
Angelica’s husband retired out of DC and the family moved three years later to San Antonio, Texas. Angelica was disappointed that she wouldn’t be able to continue with the Society in San Antonio. “I was lamenting to Melodie Weddle, director of NMCRS WNY, and she told me that the Society was exploring the possibility of opening a local service office in San Antonio,” Angelica said. “Melodie introduced me to Sharon Zacharias, director of NMCRS Ft. Worth, and responsible for oversight of the San Antonio office.” Angelica and her family moved to San Antonio in November 2014 and, as chair of volunteers, helped launch NMCRS San Antonio, which officially opened in January 2015.
“We started off with only one laptop for the office, but it wasn’t connected to the Society’s online casework processing system (CAP), so we had to do everything manually,” Angelica recalled. “This was challenging for me coming from NMCRS WNY where we were testing the latest computer equipment and software programs. NMCRS San Antonio was in a small office with no computers. It was hard. When we received the computer with the CAP software, it made things easier. Because processing casework was rather challenging, the volunteers learned to support each other more and work together more like a family.”
As the Navy population stationed at Joint Base San Antonio grew, so did the number of clients seeking financial assistance from NMCRS San Antonio. At the same time, the number of Sailors assigned to NAS Corpus Christi was decreasing, so the Society made NMCRS San Antonio a full service office and NMCRS Corpus Christi a local service office . Angelica was selected to be the Director, NMCRS San Antonio, with oversight responsibility for NMCRS Corpus Christi. “It was very exciting and the base relocated our office from a very small, shared office located upstairs, to an larger office with two small interview rooms and a reception area located downstairs. We now have keys to our own office!”
Angelica credits the directors she worked under at Whidbey Island and the Washington Navy Yard with her understanding of how to lead NMCRS San Antonio. “They helped me understand our purpose and why we help. I learned how to look at things from different perspectives to best serve clients. I decided to apply to be the director here because I’m very committed to seeing this office develop into a valuable partner of the local military community.”
Even though she brings decades of experience to her position, Angelica is always eager to learn new things. “I love keeping myself educated through the courses the Society offers. I recently attended a week-long training for new directors at NMCRS headquarters in DC. The other new directors I met keep in touch and we support each other as we learn the ropes of managing an NMCRS office. If someone gets an idea, they share it, or if they have a question, they can ask one of us,” Angelica said. “I’ve also gone through the online coursework from NMCRS University. Training is so important, especially when you’ve been around for a long time. Sometimes people feel like they already know the policies and procedures, but the Society is always learning too and teaching us different ways to approach our clients seeking financial assistance, or how to be a better leader. Not only have I grown professionally, the Society has helped me grow personally.”
Welcome aboard, Angelica!
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso