When Kaitlyn Gallant had earned her associate’s degree in accounting, she needed job experience beyond what she’d learned growing up on a cow farm. Living with her Marine spouse in Twentynine Palms, California, there were few job opportunities, so a friend suggested she volunteer with the Society. Kaitlyn quickly learned the ropes at NMCRS Twentynine Palms, and within two years had taken on a wide variety of responsibilities.
“I started volunteering in 2013 and began building my skills with hands-on experience,” Kaitlyn recalled. “I began as a client services assistant, then they asked me to serve as resource coordinator, then as the volunteer recognition coordinator. As a volunteer, I was usually in the office 20 to 30 hours each week. I started doing casework for clients in need of financial assistance and, in September 2014, I was appointed chair of volunteers. By then I was in the office all day every day. My husband was deployed to Japan, so I was helping out wherever I was needed.”
In May 2015, Kaitlyn was hired as the relief services assistant (RSA) for the Twentynine Palms office, which meant more administrative responsibilities, and recruiting a new chair of volunteers to replace her. “RSAs have to know how to do just about everything to run the office, which helped me learn multiple aspects of the Society’s work.”
The following spring, Kaitlyn and her husband PCS’d to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, where she had planned to volunteer until she found a job, which happened sooner than she expected. “I worked as an administrative assistant in the human resources department of a medical device company, but I didn’t enjoy what I was doing. When the Society contacted me about an RSA position at NMCRS Camp Pendleton, I jumped at the opportunity. Going back to the Society felt like going back home. Building up service members and volunteers and helping them grow is so rewarding to me.”
Kaitlyn served in the RSA position at NMCRS Camp Pendleton for two years, until she was asked to serve as interim director at the NMCRS MCRD San Diego office. After her husband received orders keeping the couple in San Diego for three more years, Kaitlyn happily agreed to become the permanent director, officially taking on the role on December 14, 2018. “I have a different view of the Society as a director,” she explained, as she has learned more about the big picture and how the Society interacts with different branches of the service and lots of military commands and units.
“One big challenge which I hadn’t experienced before was working with so many Sailors and Navy commands, because before I worked more with Marines and their commands,” Kaitlyn said. “Navy culture is different and some of their language is different, so I’m learning that. Luckily, we have a lot of volunteers who are Navy spouses so they are helping me understand and connect with Sailors who come into our office.” NMCRS MCRD sees a lot of clients with military pay issues and need financial assistance to set up their household, Kaitlyn explained.
The military’s PCS season takes a toll on Society offices as volunteers move away to new duty stations with their military spouses. NMCRS MCRD is no exception and Kaitlyn is recruiting new volunteers to join her team of military spouses, retirees, and others. “If you live in San Diego and want to be part of our family, come volunteer with us,” says Kaitlyn. “We have fun, we learn about personal financial management, and we help Sailors, Marines, and their families.”.
Welcome to the Society, Kaitlyn!
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso