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By Eric Heinz
A Gold Star mother and community leader in supporting active military personnel, San Clemente resident Carla Hogan was recently selected as a recipient of the Champion of the Community award for 2015 by the California Parks & Recreation Society.
Carla was also recognized for her efforts at Tuesday night’s San Clemente City Council meeting.
Carla and her husband, Jim, have been working with the Marine Corps since 2010. Carla started the San Clemente Marine Corps Support Group to send supplies to the United States Marine Corps 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, the division her son, Lance Cpl. Donald J. Hogan, served. Donald was killed while deployed in Afghanistan in 2009.
“We were friends with the commanding officer, and we started putting together a real program because we realized it was pointless putting 10 pairs of socks into a priority box when there were 1,200 guys there who wanted the same thing,” Carla said.
When sequestration and budget cuts started affecting family activity on bases in late 2011, Carla said recreational activities for the spouses and families living on base were cut.
“The wives were a little upset because they were used to having things to do there,” Carla said.
To make up for the lack of activities on base for families, Carl said she started a surfing camp working with JP’s Surf Camp for the families to participate.
“A lot of the families are from the Midwest or the East Coast and they can be a little afraid of the ocean,” she said. “So, I thought, ‘Well, at least I can get the kids out in the water and used to the ocean.’”
As the recreation opportunity ideas began to come, Carla said she started working with Pamela Passow, director of the city of San Clemente Beaches, Parks & Recreation Department, to open recreation opportunities to the families of the Marines base.
“Pam really helped me walk through city government to find out who does what and who handles what,” Carla said. “All the active-duty military families were made residents of San Clemente (for recreation), which basically cut all the costs of the recreation programs I have for the military, and I started writing grants for the families.”
A family living off the salary of a lance corporal in the Marines could now afford to send their children to recreational summer camps, Carla said.
“They don’t even make minimum wage in California,” she said.
According to the U.S. Marine Corps, a lance corporal’s starting pay is $1,729 per month.
“Every year we try to do more,” Carla said. “One thing we’ve been trying to do more are swim days, and I think they’re grateful for the recreation classes.”
What Carla said she enjoys most of all through her volunteer work is hanging out with the Marines.
“They just never cease to inspire me,” she said. “It’s really made my world so much bigger, and I’m meeting people from all over the country and all over the world. In a way, it’s carried us through our grief over Donald, and it’s kept us close to the people he served with.”
[box] San Clemente Marine Corps Support Group, 501(c)(3)
To promote closer relations between the communities of San Clemente and Camp Pendleton Marine Base
Support Americans deployed overseas and family care for local Marine dependents Programs for Forward Deployed Socks for Heroes: Since May 2011 the program has shipped 417,000 pairs of socks to Marine and Army infantry units in Afghanistan during winters of 2012, 2013, 2014. It provides additional supplies such as coffee, food, energy drinks and more.
Operation Winter Comfort
The program has shipped over 2,000 polar fleece blankets to U.S. Marine unites in Afghanistan during winters of 2012, 2013, 2014.
San Clemente Recreational Grant Program
SCMCSG provides grants to enable military families to take advantage of classes/camps provided through the city of San Clemente Beaches, Parks & Recreation Department. Since 2013, the program has provided support for nearly 600 Marine Families and paid out $50,000 in grants.
Marine Corps Golf Program
Free golf lessons for Marines and their families. Support for Unit Deployments Proves food for deploying Marines and their families during the unit deployments and returns and provides meals for single Marines with no family presence during their return.
Visit www.scmcsg.org or www.facebook.com/scsupportusmc and www.facebook.com/socksforheroes for upcoming fundraisers and events.[/box]