What began more than a decade ago as passing the hat in a bar—among people dressed as Santa—has become a signature act of corporate philanthropy that means a lot to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
Stateside Associates, a national state government affairs consulting firm, has long been a generous contributor to the Society’s work, thanks in part to one of its principals, Michael Behm.
The relationship began in 1999 with the Santa Stumble, a holiday event that Behm and his friends launched to celebrate the holiday season at various locations in Georgetown. Participants were required to dress as Santa, elves, or reindeer. In recognition of the holiday spirit of giving, revelers were also invited to make a donation to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. Over the years, the event grew to hundreds of attendees and the contributions to NMCRS became thousands of dollars. Behm chose the Society as the beneficiary of the event because of the work that Stateside Associates performed for Department of Defense agencies and programs. DoD staff he had worked with over the years had always spoken highly of the Society and its work on behalf of Marines and Sailors.
“We help the military develop better relationships with states, sustain its installations, and ease the challenges veterans and their families face,” Behm explained. “As our relationship with the Department of Defense grew, our firm’s desire to give back to the men and women serving in uniform also increased.”
“I’m not familiar with another charity more committed to changing and influencing the lives of Sailors and Marines than the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society,” Behm said. Behm appreciates that the Society is both a national organization helping Sailors and Marines and their families stationed around the world, and is headquartered locally in Arlington, as is Stateside.
Working near NMCRS headquarters, Behm has enjoyed the opportunity to meet with NMCRS personnel. “I’ve been fortunate to see firsthand how NMCRS helps the active duty Sailors and Marines and their families. The work the NMCRS staff performs is hard, heartwarming, and sometimes heartbreaking. Their visiting nurses are real heroes, spending time helping injured veterans and their families cope with real problems. That kind of commitment is really important to our company.”