Clubs support Airmen’s spouses

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Spouses at Maxwell are offering a Southern welcome this month to new officer and enlisted spouses making Montgomery their home.

Both the Maxwell-Gunter Officers' Spouses' Club and the Maxwell-Gunter Enlisted Spouses Club are reaching out to new and seasoned husbands and wives of Air Force members to help them make connections and lasting friendships.

The clubs are also a helpful and friendly way to provide base and community resources to spouses and their families.

Emily Meister, president of the MGOSC, has been an officer spouse of Capt. Keith Meister, a judge advocate general, for 2 1/2 years. She is helping to plan the club's "Sweet Home Alabama"-themed coffee welcome social for 10:30 a.m. Aug. 28 inside the Maxwell Event Center.

Meister joined the MGOSC for its volunteer opportunities and charitable work and says the club offers something for everyone.

"It's a lot of fun. We have a great group and there have been some lasting friendships over the years that have been made by joining the OSC," Meister said. "It's about growth and getting involved. A lot of people will become members and join the special activities, which spur those friendships, and we also have a huge charitable side if your passion is to volunteer or donate," she said.

Likewise, the MGESC welcomes enlisted spouses to Maxwell as extended family, said president Christine Bushby of the 42nd Force Support Squadron. She has been an enlisted spouse of Staff Sgt. Fredrick Bushby of the 42nd Security Forces Squadron for 10 years.

"We are here to take spouses under our wing and to show them the ropes that maybe somebody didn't show us, but that we learned along the way," Bushby said.

Bushby added that social club activities planned throughout the year are important to create lasting bonds between new and seasoned enlisted spouses. Such events are bowling and beach trips, activity clubs, monthly general membership meetings and charity events.

Both clubs support the military and civilian communities through charitable donations and work largely through their thrift shops. The MGOSC Thrift Shop, located at Maxwell, generated over $50,000 in charitable distributions and scholarships last year.

MGESC Thrift Store on Gunter is also thriving, according to manager and MGESC Vice President Maxine Harvey, an enlisted spouse who currently works in accounting on base.

"We were able to give a $3,000 scholarship from the funds that were generated from the thrift store so that was a big, big deal," Harvey said. "It's really thriving."

The MGESC Thrift Store also offers an in-house child care area for volunteers. Open to all those with base access, both shops accept donations, consignors and volunteers.

With more than 120 members currently, the MGOCS is open to all active duty military, retired and international officers' spouses and spouses of GS-7 ranked civilians and above.

They host monthly socials where spouses can stop by and sign up for membership at any time and choose from dozens of activities like Bible study, book club, bowling, bunko, classical music, golf, gourmet cooking, hiking, line dancing, hip hop, jazz, photography, quilting, running, scrapbooking, tennis, Zumba and movie club.

Meister hopes spouses and especially international families will come out and make those connections.

"Getting involved really is the best way to break down those barriers and even for those who have been military spouses for 10 years, give us a try," Meister said. "We're very friendly and we're very open."

Though similar to the MGOSC, the MGESC is specifically designed for enlisted spouses.

Bushby and her staff are planning to offer an Enlisted Spouse 101 class in September to celebrate the Air Force's birthday, where members will learn protocol training, military history and social traditions.

"When you're an officer spouse, you get the protocol training very early on in your spouse's career," Bushby said. "However, with the enlisted spouses, it is not until they're a command chief or senior NCO" that the spouse receives protocol training, she said."

Comprised of 25-30 members, the MGESC invites all enlisted active, retired, Reserve, Guard and civilian spouses to come join them during their general membership meetings at 6 p.m. on the first Monday of every month inside the Maxwell Event Center.

"Don't be afraid to reach out to us," Bushby said. "We want to make your stay here, however long it is, as pleasant as possible."