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JBLM spouse organizes event for military families

JBLM community, local businesses and on-base programs help families displaced by mold

Kaley Sherren coordinates over $3,000 in community donations for displaced military families. Photo credit: Kaley Sherren

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Since the beginning of 2019 there have been some cases of unlivable conditions in the on-base housing of Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), as well as other installations nationwide. It's really no surprise, given the moist conditions and temperate climate of Washington state, that mold and mildew have found their ways into peoples' homes both on base and off. What is surprising is how quickly the situation can spiral out of control when black mold is ignored and not properly dealt with.

Mold spores are considered allergens and can cause allergy-type symptoms such as runny noses, itchy eyes, rashes, and even asthma attacks. For persons with compromised immune systems, the symptoms are even worse, and exposure to mold can be potentially toxic. For many families on JBLM, the living conditions due to mold have become unlivable, thus resulting in extended hotel stays while the mold is removed, some with no timeline on when the repairs will be made. Living out of suitcases while trying to move forward with the day-to-day is nothing military families aren't already used to, but it certainly isn't the preferred lifestyle.

Enter Kaley Sherren and a community of concerned, generous, and caring individuals. Kaley, a JBLM inhabitant and active military spouse advocate, found out about the displaced families as she was monitoring one of her many community Facebook pages. She found a page dedicated to the maintenance concerns of on-base housing at JBLM. Once she realized these families were in need, she acted quickly.

"On Wednesday (in late August), I had an idea to bring the resources to the families that have been displaced due to mold. Somehow, this idea came to life on Saturday (Aug. 24 at Discovery Village Community Center). Yes, a three-day notice to organize 75-plus people, get donations, call for food to be catered, and create the event to invite people!"

The state these families are in is no secret, but Kaley, along with a huge amount of support from other spouses, family members and local businesses, recognized the need and pulled together to do something about it. Kaley estimated that roughly $3,000 in donations were given, along with catered dinners and laundry baskets full of food, household items, toys, games and other goodies for every family.

Kaley brags on the businesses and organizations that helped, stating that these organizations "not only say they care about military families but truly show they care" including Rally Point Properties - Keller Williams Realty, Veterans Lending Group of Puyallup, Dollar Tree of Lakewood Towne Center, Farrelli's Pizza, Olive Garden of Tacoma, Panera Bread of Lakewood Towne Center, and USO Northwest. Kaley even went as far as hand-delivering laundry baskets full of goods to the families at the hotels who couldn't be at the event.

If there is one thing military families are experts in, it's coming together as a community and supporting each other whether you are personally involved or not. Being an emergency contact for someone you just met, babysitting your neighbors kid you barely know and treating them like one of your own, or attending a birthday party for a friend of a friend just to be supportive is what makes us unique. We put ourselves out there and take care of one another because sometimes there isn't anyone else who will.

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