Contractor Spearheads Fundraiser for Pentagon Victim's Families
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2001 Some people might say Dawn Glencer is a brave woman. But others might call her nuts for walking into the Pentagon with a plastic shopping bag filled with more than $10,000 in cash.
They might also say she's nuts for letting the money sit on her desk for four hours. But that wouldn't bother Glencer, because she had a noble cause -- donating the money to the Pentagon Federal Credit Union's Pentagon Disaster Relief Fund.
Dawn Glencer and Pentagon Federal Credit Union President Frank Pollack show off an Apehangers Bar and Grill T-shirt like the one Glencer gave to Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard Myers. Photo by Rudi Williams
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The money had been gathered through a series of fundraisers at a suburban Washington "biker bar" and was earmarked for families of soldiers and Army civilians killed or injured in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. The Navy Federal Credit Union conducted a separate fundraiser for families of sailors and civilian employees lost in the attack. No Air Force or Marine Corps personnel were killed in the attack.
"I was a little leery with all that money because I thought the guards would stop me and I'd have to explain what I was doing with $10,000 in cash," said Glencer, project coordinator for the Office of the Secretary of Defense's Policy Training Center at the Pentagon. The center teaches computer courses.
To her surprise, the guards didn't question her. Around lunchtime, she told her boss she was going to the credit union. "By the way, do you realize that I had 10 grand sitting on my desk for the last four hours?" she asked him.
Her supervisor was flabbergasted, so she said, "It looks like my lunch, so I didn't think anybody would bother it."
Her friend, Army Col. Paul Hughes, chief of the Army's National Security Policy Division, met her at the credit union. "I wanted someone from DoD to witness the donation," Glencer said. "I used to work across the hall from his office, which is now a wide-open space. Thank God the area was being renovated, because if they hadn't moved us, we would have been dead smack center of the first floor where the airplane hit."
When she and Hughes went into the credit union, the manager, Dave Jones, asked her, "Do you really have $10,000 for me?"
"We sat down on the floor and counted it, and it turned out to be $10,233," Glencer said. Jones told her that was the largest single donation for the Pentagon Disaster Relief Fund and decided the Credit Union would match the donation, dollar for dollar.
Glencer, a former Marine Corps sergeant, spearheaded the fundraiser at a biker's bar and grill called Apehangers, in the little town of Bel Alton in southern Maryland, which is popular among the military crowd in the area. She helps her boyfriend, Art Jolliffe, run the business. In addition to Glencer, the other major players in the fundraiser were the Apehangers' bar manager, Beverly Howe, and Rob Sterling, a senior executive vice president of Waldorf's Morgan Stanley investment firm.
"The bar employees and patrons raised the money through auctions, raffles, bake sales, dances and other means," Glencer noted. "We got donations from everyone, all the restaurants in La Plata (Md.) donated gift certificates, and bike shops donated everything from detailing to a set of pipes -- all kinds of things. Someone donated a three- bedroom condo in Myrtle Beach, S.C."
Much of the money was raised during a daylong event on Nov. 17 at Apehangers, which included an auction and bake sale. The next day, they celebrated with a parade that included more than 200 motorcycles and four fire trucks that were escorted by the Charles County, Md., Sheriff's Department.
"Initially, I wanted to do a benefit for the American Red Cross, but I decided to go with the credit union because the fund is for the folks at the Pentagon, including those who were on plane," Glencer said. "I thought that since the credit union fund was smaller, the money would get to the people who need it quicker."
On Dec. 18, with Glencer present, PFCU President Frank Pollack presented a check for $62,141 to retired Army Lt. Gen. Nathaniel R. Thompson Jr., director of Army Emergency Relief at PFCU's branch in Alexandria, Va. The rest of the funds were donated by credit union members, many groups and individuals in the military community, and others to help family members of soldiers killed or injured in the Pentagon terrorist attack.
"We donated a total about $125,000, half to Army Emergency Relief and an equal amount to the Federal Employees Education and Assistance Fund," Pollack noted.
Thompson said his toughest challenge is to get through to the people that AER's offer to help is for real. "With all the bad publicity and all the bad things that has happened, people aren't sure of what's real and what's fiction," the general said. AER has paid gas, electric, mortgage, car payments, repair bills for cars, and other expenses for Army families who lost loved ones in the attack.
"One lady was paying $1,662 per month for college tuition for two girls; she couldn't afford it," Thompson said. "So we paid for this year and next year's tuition already."
Thompson said there are 38 surviving spouses of soldiers killed here Sept. 11, with 39 living children and three unborn infants. "So in the year 2025, we'll still be paying scholarship money," he noted. "Our charter deals strictly with military people. One third of what we get goes to an association that deals with civilians that worked in the building."
Glencer gave Thompson an Apehangers T-shirt for the event that has "God Bless America" and an American flag on the front and the Apehangers logo on the back.
Before the terrorist attacks, Glencer said, she had been thrilled to learn that Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, now chairman of the Joint Chiefs, rides a Harley Davidson motorcycle and likes to collect biker T-shirts. At the time, she sent him an e-mail message offering him an Apehangers' T-shirt.
"He e-mailed me back the next day and offered to pay for them," Glencer said gleefully, but the terrorist attack on the Pentagon thwarted her efforts to present the T-shirts to the general in person -- the meeting she set up to deliver the T-shirts was scheduled for Sept. 11.
The next morning, she e-mailed the general apologizing for missing the meeting. "I told him that since you're going to be busy for a long time on the terrorist problem, I'll check back with him in the spring," Glencer said. A little later, one of Myers' aides called her and told her the general was at the White House and asked her to bring up the T-shirts.
"He said the T-shirts would probably be the only bright spot in the general's day," Glencer recalls.
Myers showed his appreciation in a hand-written note to Glencer, which read: "Great T-shirts. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness. It's especially important now that we're facing some tough challenges."
Members of the Joint Staff helped out by donating about 30 military coins. They were mounted on four-coin plaques and auctioned off. Most went for $50 to $85.
Glencer said the most sought-after plaque was a set of coins that included Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James L. Jones' coin. She said a major phoned in bids from Las Vegas for the coins, which finally sold for more than $300.