Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard, along with Lt. Col. Jeff Hackett, Battalion Commander of 1-293rd, presented the award to Rev. Roger Reece, Executive Pastor of Associated Churches on Saturday, March 9, 2013 in Indianapolis.
The non-profit organization was nominated by Connie Douthat, Airman & Family Readiness Program Manager, for the support they provide to local soldiers and airmen through their Military Families Program. In 2012, Associated Churches gifted military families with over 100 holiday meals, provided help in over 30 hardship cases, assisted chaplains in assembling the 122nd Fighter Wing base religious council, recruited auxiliary local pastors when unit chaplains need backup, and arranged for a bus to "deploy" 122ndFighter Wing youth to the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.
Col. David L. Augustine, commander of the Air National Guard base in Fort Wayne, congratulated the organization saying, "How blessed we are to be in a patriotic community with such a wonderful support mechanism, under the leadership of Rev. Roger Reece, called the Associated Churches. I was excited to hear Rev. Reece and team won the award for Community Support. It is a testament to the powerful presence they've created in supporting military members in need in our community."
Reece, a former Army chaplain, has been repeatedly impressed by the community of Allen County in his first four years as Executive Pastor of Associated Churches as the organization has expanded their ministry through the Military Families Program. "For well over a decade Associated Churches has expressed care and concern for our military service members; but in recent years, when we have made calls to gather resources for the families, the doors have opened to us. Churches and businesses understand the sacrifices these men and women make for not only for their families but, for all of us. We are humbled to be able to receive this award on behalf of our community," said Reece.
Major support for this program has come from WOWO News/Talk 1190 AM through their Penny Pitch Fundraiser in 2011. Also in 2012 the first Mulligans for the Military Golf Outing was held by Associated Churches. Also, Briljent, ITT Exelis, and Jim Bushey, a Board Member of Associated Churches, have all been instrumental in funding this program.
As hundreds of area soldiers prepare to be deployed soon, the Military Families program expects to see an increase in requests for help. Associated Churches only works in direct collaboration with chaplains, family assistance specialists, case managers, employment coordinators, and vocational rehabilitation managers.
Charlie Hatten, co-chair of the Military Families program and Air Force veteran, looks to the future and sees opportunities for others to join in the effort, "We have a lot of potential for helping soldiers in the weeks and months ahead as many deploy and others return from active duty, not to mention the every day difficulties of making ends meet. We welcome those interested in joining in our efforts." To offer assistance, call Steve Staley, Director of Development at Associated Churches at 260-422-3528 or by email at Steve @AssociatedChurches.org.
For more information regarding Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County and the Military Families Program visit www.AssociatedChurches.org.