It started in the hallway of a noisy, crowded dance studio.

I wanted to DO something and so I did what I always do – I dreamt big and pitched an idea – what if we bring a New York Times bestselling author here to speak?  What if we create an event that brings our entire community together?

Admittedly, this was a pie-in-the-sky idea, but why not ask?

(Side note: I tend to think most of our losses come from failing try.  We handicap our success by failing to even begin.  So whenever possible, I ask the question and begin any venture believing that lining up to start and crossing the starting line is as much of a success as crossing the finish line.)

But I digress.

Not expecting much, you can imagine my delight when, within a day, that email received a YES.  She said yes, of course I’ll come.

Folks, that’s how THIS event was born.  Two weeks from today, the Whiteman Spouses Club is bringing Rachel Macy Stafford of the Hands Free Revolution to central Missouri.

Now, I’m willing to bet that some of her readers can’t find Knob Noster or Warrensburg, Missouri on a map. But thanks to a small group of military spouses, this wise woman will bless the socks off every single guest in Hendricks Hall at the University of Central Missouri on Thursday May 3, 2018.

And it’s going to be a great crowd. {Join us! grab your ticket here.}

We will have military members and spouses from Whiteman Air Force Base, teachers from at least 4 surrounding school districts, businesswomen, mothers, grandmothers, single parents, and that’s just the beginning.  I’ve heard of entire groups of women traveling from Overland Park, Kansas and Cole Camp, Missouri.  A friend in the Missouri Air National Guard shared it with her counterparts stationed at Jefferson Barracks and others in St. Louis.  Thanks to the generous sharing of this event by Rachel herself, women are traveling from out of state, including Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Illinois.

Our audience will have a hundred reasons for coming.  Each person will walk through the doors of Hendricks Hall with their own story as to why they decided to come.

I’d like to offer you a glimpse at my own.  This is WHY I believe this event matters.

First and foremost, if you’re looking for community, build it.  If you’re lonely and desperately looking for a friend, be the friend you’re looking to find.  I know this is true for military spouses especially – we are all lonely at some point. There is always, always, always someone who feels like you.  Reach out – you might be lifeline someone else needs.

Second, I think it’s safe to say that military Spouses Clubs are in the midst of an ongoing identity complex: Who is the spouses club? Why should spouses join? What purpose does the spouses club serve?  And alongside those understandable questions, there’s the unavoidable fear of drama that accompanies any gathering of (mostly) women beginning in middle school and continuing through senior living communities.

In my mind, this event is the answer and antidote to all of that.

We are designed to be MULTIPLIERS, not dividers.  When we’re our best selves, we bring out the best in everyone around us.  Moreover, life flourishes in community.  We weren’t meant to do this alone.

And while the tapestry of every spouses’ club looks different today than when my grandmother and mom served on “wives club” boards, the heritage of the clubs give us a pretty good vision for why spouses’ clubs are still relevant and vital for today’s military communities.

Today’s military Spouses’ Clubs are usually the only private organization on a military base that is BY SPOUSES, FOR SPOUSES.  The mission of these clubs is always to build connections (social events) and invest in community (charitable outreach).   In an era where spouses increasingly admit to loneliness despite greater online connectedness, Spouses’ Clubs offer a tangible opportunity for spouses to find their tribe and pay it forward.

For my grandmother’s generation, these clubs were committed to providing for war widows, veterans, and their spouses.  Gigi was among the first to help spearhead designated retirement communities, like her own Air Force Village.  My mom continued this work and built on it.  I had a front row seat to her work raising funds for AFV and for scholarships for military spouses and children.  Mom knew first hand how many spouses sacrificed their own education by moving repeatedly and having to start over.  (Best I can tell, by the time she completed her degree, she had moved 10 times with my dad and she had enough credits for 3 degrees.)  And thanks to work like hers, the wives clubs I grew up around were raising funds to send kids like me to college.  I graduated from college debt-free thanks (in part) to a spouses’ club scholarship.

Today’s spouses’ clubs continue this work.  For many bases, the cornerstone of our giving is our scholarship program.  Here at Whiteman Air Force Base, the WSC is a 501(c)3 and has awarded more than $80,000 in scholarships to military spouses and military kids in just the last four years.

And today’s spouses’ clubs are pivoting to meet new challenges like record high military spouse unemployment and responding to growing concerns about mental health among active duty, veterans, and our families.

That’s the heart of this event on May 3.  We are building connections among military spouses, military members, and our civilian neighbors and investing in our community.

Together, we’re going to meet the challenges of today so we see a better tomorrow.

Together, we’re going to lock arms and be neighbors who love each other well.

Together, we’re going to pay it forward.

If you’re anywhere local, please join us on May 3rdat 7PM.  Tickets are $25, available for purchase at the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce or the Whiteman Thrift Shop or online here.

If you’re not local, consider how to do this in your community.  Build connections and invest.  We’re all better together.

If you’re military, find your tribe for however long you’re stationed there.  Consider how your spouses’ club could become a powerhouse for your community.  It’s cheesy, but perhaps, “If you build it, they will come.”

For more #milspouse life, here’s these:

My friends asked me to tell you

By Faith