An MV-22 flightline mechanics instructor in the Marine Corps, Daniel O’Neil is studying to become a master training specialist. During his down time between courses, O’Neil volunteers for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
“About eight years ago after I finished my initial military training, I got a loan from the Society to move my wife and son and myself into our first apartment,” O’Neil recalled. “I needed funds for first and last month’s rent and down payments for utilities, and the Society helped me out in a quick and painless process. Since then I’ve known many people throughout my career who have received assistance from the Society. I’m a huge advocate for NMCRS and always send people there for help, so recently I decided to start volunteering.”
O’Neil served as Active Duty Fund Drive coordinator for Marine Corps Air Station New River. “Instead of having one or two large meetings, we decided to break it down, get more volunteers, and talk with service members in smaller, more personal groups of 15 to 20,” O’Neil explained. “That size group is a little more intimate, so you can answer more questions in a less intimidating environment. That helps a lot. Year over year our contributions have gone up an incredible amount. I attribute that to our volunteers giving more personal attention to everyone in our commands.”
Alongside other ADFD volunteers—some of whom have benefited from the Society’s services in the past—O’Neil works to provide information and clear misconceptions about the Society. “I think the biggest misconception we run into is people think the Society only offers small loans for dire emergencies. We explain that the Society offers Quick Assist Loans to try to combat predatory lenders. I tell people, ‘instead of reaching for that credit card, go to the Society to get an interest-free loan. A lot of people don’t know about our Budget for Baby® program, or our visiting nurse program. I tell them that they don’t even need to ask for a loan to get assistance—they can get help with a budget before they get in trouble.” Once the Marines he talks to learn all this, “they are more willing to give, without a doubt,” O’Neil said.
In addition to volunteering with the Fund Drive, O’Neil has been training as a caseworker with the Society, learning how to do budgets with clients and give Quick Assist Loans. When he’s busy with classes, O’Neil has less time to volunteer, but he always comes back to the Society when he can to lend a hand.
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso