MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR -- When life throws a curve ball, a well-cooked meal can be enough to get someone back on track. However, when the stress of rapid change becomes overwhelming, volunteers like Janelle D’Ambrogi step in to provide home-cooked meals to fellow military families.
After joining the Marine Corps family a little over a year ago, D’Ambrogi set her ambitions toward helping Marines and families transition through major life changes through her hospitable nature.
“We have been married for a year and a half now and [Marine Corps Base] Camp Pendleton is our second duty station,” said D’Ambrogi. “Our squadron, [Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 364], hired a new family readiness officer and had a family day to introduce her. New to the area, I had no friends or commitments and decided that it was important to get involved and use my time wisely and that this is where I should do it.”
D’Ambrogi signed up to begin volunteering through the squadron’s FRO and helped plan several events. They prepared frozen meals for welcoming families to the squadron and helped guide them to resources.
This program, affectionately dubbed “meal teams,” brings together Marine spouses from each shop, enabling them to work together to recruit volunteers and cook meals, explained D’Ambrogi. These prepared meals go to new parents, Marines and family members undergoing surgeries or to Marines and families in need.
“The ‘meal team’ is important especially for new mothers who may be struggling with the duties involved in caring for their family addition, as well as the families that may be affected by a life changing surgery,” she said. “To complete these duties, I must be an active and attentive part of the families’ lives in the flight line [shop] and the entire squadron.”
She also works to bring families together with bingo nights, Christmas parties and spa nights throughout the squadron, but her efforts do not stop there.
D’Ambrogi teaches childrens’ church classes at the Marine Memorial Chapel aboard MCB Camp Pendleton and volunteers with the Christian Women’s Fellowship bible studies.
“I am so glad I have chosen to get involved,” she said. “It has only been a few months, but I already feel so much more connected here with the other spouses than I did when I was in North Carolina. So many wives draw into themselves and stay at home when in a new situation the military life can bring. This initiative has already and will continue to encourage spouses to become involved and when you get involved you know that you are not alone.”