Aviation employees celebrate Women’s History Month by serving others

By Cathy Hopkins DLA Aviation Public Affairs

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Defense Logistics Agency Aviation-Jacksonville, Florida, employees decided to celebrate Women’s History Month March 10 by serving others at the non-profit Clara White Mission in downtown Jacksonville.

Navy Cmdr. Monica Frey, DLA Aviation-Jacksonville commander, suggested this volunteer activity in celebration of National Women’s History month because Clara White was a woman whose impact on the local community was noteworthy.

According to its website, the Clara White Mission was founded in 1904, but traces its origins to the 1880s in Jacksonville. It was then that former slave Clara English White fed hungry neighbors from her two-room house on Clay Street. Over subsequent years, her daughter, nationally recognized humanitarian Dr. Eartha M. M. White, molded the labor of love into a thriving social agency.

Aviation employees from DLA Aviation-Jacksonville joined volunteers from other community organizations to serve lunch to around 100 homeless individuals.

DLA Aviation-Jacksonville Equipment Specialist Tamatha Hartman said that the volunteer experience was amazing and humbling. 

“I very much appreciated volunteering with the Clara White activity,” said Hartman, who works in DLA Aviation-Jacksonville, Customer Operations Directorate, Order Fulfillment Division’s Structural Components Branch. “It was humbling to realize how such a small contribution to help others can bring joy to them. To see so many volunteers help was awesome.”

“Clara White Mission provides a daily meal, five days of the week, for the homeless, but it was our first outreach,” said Jerold Martin, an equipment specialist, who also serves as a Specialist Emphasis Program liaison and works in the same branch as Hartman.

Martin coordinated the initial planning with mission staff and said the only obstacle was finding an open date in March because all the openings were full. “Ms. Merle Wright, administrative assistant for the Clara White Mission, made an exception for us but restricted our number of volunteers to five people,” said Martin. 

“I consider volunteering to help a brother or a sister in need as a blessing to be able to be on the giving side. No one chooses to be on the needing side,” said Joel Therlonge, a customer support technician, who works in the same branch as Martin and Hartman. “The experience helped me realize how blessed I am.  It showed me that I should stop whining about meaningless things and instead be grateful because I have a lot more than I deserve.”

Wayne Townsend, a residential adviser for Clara White Mission said, volunteers are a tremendous help in feeding the community.

“The volunteers that come to Clara White Mission are the very backbone of this community; they provide a great service that enables us to do what we do,” said Townsend. “The volunteers are the very essence of what we stand for, which is ‘Serving Out of Love.’”

The Clara White Mission’s goal is to reduce homelessness by providing education, housing, and job training. They hire a percentage of their students who graduate, house homeless veterans, and provide a daily meal, five days of the week, for the homeless.  CWM also has a White Harvest Farm providing acres of fresh produce for locals who reside in an area that is designated as a food desert.