05/09/04 — American Legion treats military spouses to dinner

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American Legion treats military spouses to dinner

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 9, 2004 2:06 AM

Two-year-old Jake Wether-ington played on the floor in the hallway of the Family Assistance wing of the National Guard Armory.

His dad, Sgt. Dan Wether-ington, has been deployed by the National Guard. The American Legion treated his mother, Carla, and dozens of other family members of deployed Guardsmen to a home-cooked dinner and a movie Saturday.

Wendy Davenport's husband, Michael, is one of the deployed Guardsmen. She said she learned about the dinner through a newsletter the Guard sends to family members each month. The newsletter is called "Family Matters."

"They keep us well informed," she said. "We have family support meetings twice a month."

The Davenports live in Goldsboro. Michael Davenport, who works at Hill & Ferencz Electric Company, was in the Guard when they met. One weekend a month, he would go to drill, then go two weeks each year to different places for annual training. He was at Fort Bragg from October to February, when he was deployed.

Betty Jones, president of the American Legion Auxiliary for Wayne County's American Legion Post 11, cooked roast beef and trimmings for the adults and hot dogs for the children, and other members of the auxiliary brought desserts and tea.

"We expect about 40 people," she said. "It's very informal.

Mrs. Jones manages the lunch room at Brogden Primary School and is used to cooking large amounts of food. Her husband, Roy, is the post chaplain. He gave the invocation.

Melissa Thames with the National Guard's Family Assistance Center in Goldsboro had arranged for popcorn and the movie, "Cheaper by the Dozen."

"We have a monthly Family Assistance weekend, but this one is more special," she said. She had some volunteers with her who help with such occasions. The volunteers, called Family Readiness, are connected with two of the region's several companies. They're with HHC, or Headquarters, and Charlie Med Company, and they're the Goldsboro units. The region covers a 50-mile radius around Goldsboro.

Family members from the entire region came to the dinner. Ms. Thames said 39 family members had responded to the invitations promising to come. About 30 came.

Families serve, too, said Capt. Sherrell Murray, the state family program coordinator based in Raleigh.

"You don't wear a uniform. You don't drop and do push-ups. But your support is vital," she told the group of family members. "When soldiers deploy
and go away, they can only serve fully when they know their family is behind them. They don't have to worry about them. They can stay focused."

The service organizations like the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which also had some people helping with the dinner, are a God-send, she said. "The VFW and the American Legion are helping us all over the state," she said.

The Guard headquarters in Goldsboro is accepting items for care packages and money for shipping the items to the troops. Donated items can include cookies, chips, canned goods with hand-held can openers, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, books, video cassettes, DVDs and tapes. Any food that can melt, aerosol products and anything with nudity will not be accepted.

People can drop the items by the Goldsboro armory Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. For information, call 739-5331. Cash or checks are accepted. Checks should be made payable to the 230th Family Readiness Group.