Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

U.S. Angels...Being a Little Bad to do a lot of Good

Written by  January 31, 2005

It’s my great pleasure to share this interview with my fellow riders, veterans and civilians alike. Dawn Glencer is a patriotic, take-charge kind of gal, who manages the U.S. Angles. Dawn and her crew of beautiful ladies support our wound comrades through personal visits and fund-raising events. So pop a cold one, sit back and enjoy her lively and sincere candor, as she shares with us the story of the U.S. Angels 2005.
CC: How would you describe the U.S. Angels organization?
Dawn: We’re a tight-knit group of professional females, who are all from the Southern Maryland area and have a strong sense of patriotism with a desire to help our returning soldiers. OK – and we’re all a little on the rowdy side.
CC: How long have the U.S. Angels been performing?
Dawn: We have been performing since February 2004.
CC: Who came up with the U.S. Angels idea?
Dawn: Well, it was kind of a request! After hosting two benefits after 9/11 – one for the Pentagon Disaster Relief Fund in November 2001, and another in September 2002 for the Pentagon Memorial Fund, the President of the Pentagon Foundation, Rocky Mitchell, contacted me and asked if me and “my group” could help raise funds for the Fisher House at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. Once I learned about the Fisher House, I knew it was definite something I wanted to be involved in. I just had to put together a group first!
CC: Managing the U.S. Angels seems like a fun and rewarding job. How did you find this great job?
Dawn: Ha! It is rewarding, fun – sometimes, but definitely not so much in the beginning. We had a rough start – lots of girls waving the flag, wanting to be in the calendar. But once the calendar came out and there was actual work to be done, several started quite a ruckus over petty things. Some complained about everything from what outfits to wear, to basically trying to weasel out of having to do any work, especially giving up any of their free time on the weekends. Some even tried to tell folks that we weren’t really doing any fund-raising and that some of the money was going into our own pockets. But once the smoke settled, the true “angels” stuck by me. The drama dissolved and we got back to work. We’ve hosted so many benefits and now are really having a blast! Sometimes there are days I wished I had never gotten involved, then there are the days we spend with the soldiers and their families that make it all worthwhile.
CC: How did you get the background and skills necessary to manage the Angels?
Dawn: Well, I’m a former Marine and naturally head-strong and overly opinionated. I always tell folks to never ask me to help out, because I’ll end up taking it over – it’s just in my nature. The rest I just totally winged…and prayed.
CC: Do you have to recruit the Angels, or do they find you?
Dawn: Actually, it is a little of both. Initially, most girls were ones I knew personally or through friends. But after all we’ve been through, we are extremely careful about whom we let into the team. We know have such a great crew – we don’t want to add anyone who isn’t a perfect fit or doesn’t have something special to bring to the Angels. We’re a smaller group now, but we are getting more done than ever.
CC: The Angels are all very attractive ladies, but what skills and talents must they master?
Dawn: A lot of time, it’s just the absolute willingness to help and the desire to make a difference. A pretty face doesn’t hurt – visiting the soldiers in the hospital. The soldiers really don’t want to see “the ladies in comfortable shoes” if you know what I mean. My “savior” has truly been Angela Ross…make that Sergeant Ross, USMC. She joined us last October and came in like gangbusters – completely self-motivated. If it wasn’t for her, I’m not sure if I’d be able to do this for another year. In the past, most of the work of setting up benefits and organizing sponsors was pretty much on me alone. I said if this was to continue, everybody was going to have to pull their own weight, and it’s definitely happening now. Thank God! All that craziness overseas isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon, so our support is still needed.
CC: How many Angels do you have today?
Dawn: Right now, we have ten girls. We’re doing a “change of guard” in March 05’ – we’re losing three girls who are heading back to school. We may do some recruiting; we may not. If we do, the new volunteers are definitely going to have to prove themselves up front. We may ask them to help out for a while, until we can see what they’re made of and what their motivation is (attention or wanting to help).
CC: What are the most challenging issues the Angels face as they perform?
Dawn: A lot of times it’s hearing the truly sad stories or seeing a soldier who’s been badly injured. We always joke between us that “there’s no crying in the Angels!” This is mostly due to one of our Angels, Joan, as she cries at the drop of a hat. Another challenge is trying to help those folks as an overall group, and not individually – we try to leave that up to Vivian Wilson, the director of the Fisher House. She’s with them every day and can better identify their needs than we can. And unfortunately, there’s a lot of jealousy around our small town – they just see us at promos, signing autographs, or guest-bartending. Many people don’t see us at the hospitals, on our computers until midnight working on the web site, or the countless hours we spend on the phone, arranging benefits, talking and pleading with sponsors. Nor do they see us just before Christmas, wrapping dozens of presents for the troops, when we haven’t even wrapped gifts for our own families yet. They don’t see all the work involved, but that’s OK. As long as Vivian and our soldiers know what we do and appreciate us; we don’t worry about the rest of them.
CC: What do the Angels find most rewarding?
Dawn: The smiles on the faces of the soldiers when we see them, and the e-mails we get from their parents. I still get dozens of e-mails from soldiers who went home months ago, telling me about their new job or new house. We aren’t going to make their life easier – because they are definitely on a long road. But we CAN make it a little nicer while they’re at Walter Reed. Recently, Vivian told me that when a new soldier arrives at the Fisher House and is feeling pretty much in the dumps, the current resident soldiers take action! They immediately run downstairs with our calendar, telling him “oh man, wait until you meet the Angels!” Needless to say, it made my day… and my year!

CC: Do any of the Angels (or husbands/boyfriends) ride motorcycles?
Dawn: Ahem, I ride my own, thank you very much! But yes, just about all the girls have some kind of connection to the biker world – AND I definitely plan on getting a few more of them into the Motorcycle Riders Course this spring, too.
CC: It seems the Department of Defense is very supportive of your efforts. Do they provide funding and other means of support?
Dawn: Well, they’ve been pretty good. They wouldn’t let the store in the Pentagon sell our calendars, but you can buy Girl Scout cookies in every office. My friend, Rudy Williams, did a nice article on us last summer that was picked up by military newspapers all over. But funding? I wish! We couldn’t even get approval to do a photo shoot here at the Pentagon where I work, even though we did one for my last calendar, and that was after 9/11. Oh well, can’t fight OGC. Support would have been nice, considering it’s for our soldiers. But our true sponsors have been Bob Hall (Budweiser/Bud Lite) out of Southern Maryland – they’ve been absolutely wonderful to us all year! Fort Washington Harley-Davidson and Mr. Tire of Southern Maryland were also instrumental in helping us get our calendar printed and gave us T-shirts and hats as giveaways on a couple of occasions. We love our Bud guy – Keith Olsen – you rock, man!
CC: After reviewing your great web site, www.usangels.com, I see that the Angels are very busy in 2005 supporting both military and other fun events. How do you market the Angels to both worlds?
Dawn: We don’t change. We’ve had several folks suggest that we change our “image,” tone it down, and so on, so that we would get more support from the more conservative types. And we actually considered it, for about a minute. Then I thought “who would we be changing for?” The soldiers and the folks at Walter Reed are happy with us just the way we are – and so are we. Thus the motto, “being a little bad to do a lot of good.” Folks just need to relax and learn to have a sense of humor. One of my favorite helmet stickers says “Bikers have more fun than people do.” So true! I’ve seen kids going to the prom and stopping by a biker bar so their parents could take pictures and parade them around – love it! Cutting loose is a great stress reliever. I just turned 40…I think there’s an ingredient in Bud Lite that keeps you young – remember you heard it from me first!
CC: How do you see the Angels as an organization, grow in the next year? In the next five years?
Dawn: Oh God – just let us get thru this next year in one piece! We’re playing it by ear and seeing how it goes. I never plan anything in my life that far ahead – too much going on in the present.
CC: Is there anything else you would like to share with our riders, both veterans and civilians?
Dawn: Oh yeah – don’t just SAY you support our troops – DO SOMETHING! Any act of kindness is welcome, whether it’s volunteering at a local Veterans Administration (VA) hospital, donating CDs or Game Boys to the soldiers. If you don’t know what to do, e-mail me and I’d be happy to point them in the right direction. They can start by ordering our 2005 calendar online. All proceeds go to the Fisher House at Walter Reed. Or come on out to one of our benefits – we’ll be doing one every few months and we can always use some help.
Dawn, I wish to thank you and the Angels for your hard work and sacrifices to support our military, especially those who are suffering. Also, a special thanks goes out to their sponsors. Please keep it up in 2005 and beyond.
To my readers, as I have previously mentioned in a couple of past articles, these ladies are helping our own out of the kindness of their hearts; shouldn’t we too? Contact Dawn or select one of the other support methods I wrote about last month and unselfishly reach out to our wounded warriors and their families.
Bart
Ride Free

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