From Dark Beginnings, The Sunflower Meet-Up group brings light to spouses

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

The Maxwell Sunflower Meet-Up group started almost a year ago to  support military spouses by providing an environment for them to create friendships and a support network while stationed here.

Club founder, Emily Chua, saw the need for a relationship building spouses group, but never encountered one at any of the four bases where she was stationed.

When she moved to Maxwell as permanent party, Chua made friends with some of the fellow spouses, but unfortunately they were only stationed here for school, and soon moved away. She once again found herself without a support system.

She then received grave news. A close friend of hers, whom she had known while stationed here, committed suicide shortly after her family moved to another base. Chua said her friend had been unknowingly suffering from postpartum depression.

After the death of her friend, she fully realized the importance of building a support network between military spouses. With the help of the organizations within the Integrated Delivery System on base, she founded the Sunflower Meet-Ups.

“Too many fantastic people are lost. My friend was a huge light in so many lives. She left behind a beautiful daughter, loving husband, friends and family, because she didn’t understand how to convey her feelings,” Chua said. “It’s really important to know there are resources available to you, and it’s okay to seek them out. That’s part of why we formed the group, to help people understand that there are resources.”

The meetings allow spouses to get together and share advice, as well as build friendships.

The group also frequently invites personnel from the Airman and Family Readiness, Military Family Life counselors and the base chaplains to attend the meetings to inform them of the resources readily available to them.

 “The sunflower is always looking toward the sun,” she said. “Even when it’s dark outside, the sunflower is always trying to find the sun that is available, and that’s kind of what military life is about. It can be dark at points, but the only way you’re going to be successful in being a military member or a spouse is to look for the positives in things.”

The Sunflower Meet-Up group gathers every Friday, from 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m., at the Grace Chapel here on base.