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Military

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Word of Honor

photo via: Huffington Post
photo via: Huffington Post

A few weeks ago, a girlfriend invited me to a potluck dinner, which she called Friends with Causes. The idea was to get a group of girlfriends together for a fun casual night and learn about a non-profit in someone’s home. My friend and our hostess has been involved with a non-profit called The Word of Honor Fund, which supports the children of fallen Navy Seals.

This week being all about freedom and patriotism, I can think of no better time than to share the beautiful work that this group does to support those who gave their lives for our country. Many of those who pay the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, leave behind an unwritten, unfulfilled legacy in their children. This is where the Word of Honor Fund begins.

In recent years, two major wars have taken significant tolls on our nation and our soldiers’ families. The overwhelming loss of so many heroes has created a void in the lives of their surviving children.  The brutal reality for these kids is that they will grow up without the guidance of a hero and mentor, a beloved dad and male father figure. The effect of such loss cannot be measured.

The Word of Honor Fund enables the Seal families to step in to help these kids during the intervening years that lead to adulthood. The Seal Teams provide Make a Wish like experiences as well as mentoring their fallen brothers children. It is their goal and responsibility to identify the means to honor promises made to them by their fathers, and see those promises through fruition to the best of their abilities. It is their Word of Honor.

As we begin preparing this week for our Fourth of July celebrations, remember those who have given us the ultimate sacrifice and their children who continue to live with the consequences.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2014 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Charity Matters Quotes

“Man must search for what is right, and let
happiness come on its own.”

Johann Pestalozzi

photo via: Huffington Post
photo via: Huffington Post

 

As we say goodbye to May and get ready to embrace June. I wanted to close this month with gratitude towards our military, our veterans and all the families that sacrifice so much for each and every one of us. Memorial Day is behind us and summer is just peeking out from around the corner. So before we leave this month, thank you to all who have given and served.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2014 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Stranger at Home

stranger at home

One of the greatest thing about Charity Matters is meeting incredible people who do incredible things. A few years back I met an amazing lady named Beth Dolan, who at the time was producing a radio show that I was a guest on.  We have stayed in touch and she recently reached out to share with me an inspiring project she is taking on, making a movie about our returning military veterans and the consequences of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

Her movie is called Stranger at Home. I don’t usually promote fundraising events, benefits or even indigo go campaigns here because this is a place to tell the story of one person making a difference. However, Beth and her husband Luis are making a difference. They are using their skills, talents and voice to share the story of our Veterans who do not always have one.

They inspire me and I hope they inspire you. So take a look and as Beth and Luis said, “They fought for us and now it is our turn to fight for them.”

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2014 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Happy Memorial Day

“Who kept the faith and fought the fight; The glory theirs, the duty ours.”

Wallace Bruce

photo via:cnn
photo via:cnn

Today is Memorial Day, a day that was first celebrated in 1868 as Decoration Day. Decoration day was created to honor the 600,000 U.S. men and women who died in the Civil War. Millions more have served since, and many have made the ultimate sacrifice for us. So today as you enjoy your family, friends and freedom remember those that have given us that gift. Our soldiers.

Happy Memorial Day!

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2014 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Make your bed

make your bed, Bill McRaven

As we get ready for Memorial Day this weekend and as graduations loom for many, I thought that Admiral Bill McRaven’s recent Commencement address was particularly fitting. Admiral McRaven is a 36 year old Navy SEAL veteran and a Navy four star who has avoided the spotlight successfully. Once his infamous squadron, known as SEAL Team Six, killed Osama bin Laden the attention was unavoidable. Despite Admiral McRaven’s adventures, his wisdom is a treat and as he so wisely states, “It all begins with simply making your bed.”

If you give your self one gift this weekend make it this.

God bless our SEALS, this great country and for goodness sakes, just make your bed.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend Everyone!

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2014 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Operation Gratitude

photo via: Womensconference.org
photo via: Womensconference.org

Don’t you love it when you get introduced to someone incredible? It always makes my day!  Last week, my business call turned into much more….an hour and a half call with the most amazing woman and non-profit founder. Her story touched and inspired me and I hope it does the same for you.

Her name is Carolyn Blashek and on September 11th, 2001 she was a young mother of two watching what was happening in her hometown of NYC and sure that her parents were in the Trade Center. They were not, but the events of that day drove her straight to every recruiting office in her suburban neighborhood trying to join the military. Thankfully, she was deemed “too old.”

Her backup plan was the USO, which at the time was sleepy at best. One day alone in the office, a soldier walked in asking for a chaplain, there was no one there. He asked if she would listen, she did. He had come home to bury his mother, his infant child had died and his wife had left him. He told Carolyn that if he didn’t come home from this war, no one would care and she told him she did. That was the beginning of Operation Gratitude. It was March 2003.

The war was just beginning and so was Carolyn. Like most non-profits they started from her living room, writing letters and sending care packages to the troops. At the time there were no other military support organizations and her children were 10 and 12.

 

Carolyn’s daughter now grown, lives in New York City and her son is returning home this summer after four and half years in the Marines. A Princeton undergrad who will be heading off to Stanford and Yale to complete his MBA and law degrees. Carolyn said,” She had addressed thousands of care packages thinking she knew what mother’s and families went through until she addressed her own sons, when she truly understood.”

Today, Operation Gratitude annually sends 150,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment, hygiene and hand-made items, plus personal letters of appreciation, to Veterans, First Responders, Wounded Warriors, Care Givers and to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed overseas. Their mission is to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of our Active Duty and Veteran communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation to members of our Military.

Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than One Million Care Packages. The beauty, love and simplicity in simply saying thank you is pure inspiration.

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2014 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Veterans continue service:Team Rubicon

Team RubiconVeterans Day was monday,we hung our flags, enjoyed our holiday and remembered those who served. For most Veterans service never ends and the call to serve is all they know. This week that call to serve is in the Philippines. That is exactly where the veterans who make up the nonprofit, Team Rubicon will be heading on their next mission.

The mission is exactly where Team Rubicon began. Two Marines who met in sniper school, Jacob Wood and Clay Hunt returned from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with other Veterans who were no longer sure of their purpose. That all changed when an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010. Jacob Wood, Clay Hunt and a host of other Veterans decided to deploy to heal others in need and in the process began to heal themselves. That was the beginning of Team Rubicon.

On the streets of Haiti these Veterans realized they were onto something, and that was  that “natural disasters present many of the same problems that confront troops in Iraq and Afghanistan: unstable populations, limited resources, horrific sights, sounds and smells.  The same skills cultivated on those same battlefields – emergency medicine, risk assessment and mitigation, teamwork and decisive leadership – are invaluable in disaster zones.” Who can rally better than our troops?

Since January 2010 Team Rubicon has rallied its team of veterans to Haiti, Chile, Burma, Pakistan, Sudan, and here at home, in Vermont, Maryland, Missouri, and Alabama. On monday, this past Veterans Day, those who have served us boarded planes to the Philippines…..where they will continue to do what they do, serve.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2013 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

 

 

Hugs project

Marines_-_Will_Work_For_HugsWith Veterans Day approaching on monday, I thought it was a good time to look at the amazing work people do in this country to support our military. In my quest, I came across over 8,000 non-profits that support our troops but this one stood out because of one remarkable lady and a hug.

Her name is Karen Stark and she is the founder of  The Hugs Project. In 2004, Karen and her husband Ray, wanted to make sure that every American service member knew they were loved and appreciated for all they do. The couple first wrote to one soldier who was suffering from depression, he then asked them if they could write to another young soldier. Before they knew it they were sending care packages and writing to many troops overseas. Then the Starks had heard that many soldiers were suffering from severe heat exhaustion, so they began making “hugs” which are bandannas filled with crystals that can soak up two cups of water. The soldiers wear these around their neck to keep cool and the ties are affectionately called “hugs.”

 

Karen said ,”We never intended to send anything more than ” we respect what you are doing” emails but the need was there.”  Those emails and cooling ties turned into care packages and now almost a decade later The Hug Project is still going strong. To date the organization is in 50 states and 17 countries around the world, and has sent tens of thousands of care packages and hugs to our troops. Karen and her husband are making the world better, one hug at a time.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2013 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Starfish Foundation

Starfish-Foundation-nzLast friday I was in Milwaukee. for my husband’s triathlon  a city I have never been too before. In addition to wanting to check out the sights, some breweries, and of course, some inspiring people making a difference. My search lead me to an amazing lady named Patricia Clausson and the non-profit she founded, The Starfish Foundation.

Patricia grew up in a military family as a Sergeant Major’s daughter. So she already had an innate understanding as to the inner working of military families. At an impressionable age she  lost a close friend to suicide in Vietnam and then shortly after her boyfriend to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when he returned from Vietnam as well.  Her life course was already set from these tragedies and rather than having them define her, she defined them.

In 1998 Patricia began the Starfish Center to help all individuals with emotional healing and in time the center became the non-profit, called The Starfish Foundation. Its mission is to support veterans programs that heal the emotional, moral and spiritual wounds of combat. They work together to guide the wounded to the peace that heals and strengthens their hearts.

Whether you are in LA, New York or anywhere in between people are good. Time and again I see those who take their pain and turn it into fuel to help others. That is a beautiful thing wherever you may be. Milwaukee was a great city and full of truly great people.

 

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2013 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Remembering those left behind, American Widows Project

American Widow Project, tarynNext monday is Memorial Day, which gets everyone excited for summer. However, Memorial Day is also a time to remember those that have served our country, our military and their families. We watch the evening news and hear of road side bombings in Afghanistan and somehow become de-sensitized to the fact that those soldiers were people’s sons, brothers and husbands. Those left behind are holding pieces to shattered hearts and lives.

One woman who lived the nightmare of two service men knocking on her door was then 22-year-old Taryn Davis. It was 2007 and she was told that her young husband, Michael had been killed in Iraq. Taryn’s life was shattered.  She felt alone, devastated and didn’t know where to turn.

She decided to travel the country and interview other military widows and the result was both her healing and a documentary she entitled “The American Widow Project.” A few short months later she founded a non-profit with the same name, The American Widows Project.

Taryn’s goal was simply to ensure that no military widow should feel alone in her grief. She believes that each military widow deserves the opportunity and tools to help rebuild her life. When a widow reaches out to The American Widow Project they immediately receive Taryn’s film, a phone call from another widow and thousands of online supporters as well as local support groups. In addition there are monthly activities such as sky diving, zip-linning or surfing, to help these women feel alive again.

 

To date The American Widow Project has reached out to over 800 widows and counting. Since 2001,over 6,600 U.S. service members have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. This number doesn’t include the thousands more that have lost their lives due to sudden illness, accident, homicide or those that have taken their own lives due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

This Memorial Day, lets take a moment to remember not just those who we lost but also those left behind.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2013 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

The simple act of saying thank you

Tomorrow so many of us will be gathering around tables surrounded by friends and families to celebrate Thanksgiving. Thousands of our troops however, will not be at home this year.

Here is the simplest and fastest way to say thank you. Click on this link to the USO.org and send a quick message of thanks to a soldier. It takes under one minute and is a beautiful way to start Thanksgiving. If your feeling generous, then share the link with others and spread the word.

I know you are all busy packing the car, grocery shopping or cooking but the simple gesture of “thank you” to one of our soldiers is a true Thanksgiving gift. The gift of your time and thought is what it’s all about!

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2012 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Veterans Day

“It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the organizer, Who gave us the freedom to demonstrate

It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag.

And whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, USMC

Today is the day that we observe Veterans Day and this year it could not come at a better time. Our country is divided from this past election between Democrats and Republicans, rich and poor, black and white…..but none of these matter. What matters is that we are all Americans before we are anything else.

Today, lets take a moment to honor all of those men and women who have sacrificed to give us this great nation. They are more than mere names on a wall, they were fathers, sons and most of all American heroes we proudly call veterans. God Bless you all!

 Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2012 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

 

Born on the 4th of July

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”  

Thomas Paine

Today we celebrate the 4th of July, our freedom and our great nation. So often when we roll out those picnic blankets and light the barbeques we forget those men that provided each of us with that luxury, our troops.

I was recently invited to a concert from a soldier named Jason Moon and hearing his story of war in Iraq, of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and his life upon re-entry into a world he left to defend and one he didn’t know where he fit upon return was beyond inspiring.

Before Jason left for Iraq he was a singer and song writer who was studying to become a hospital chaplain in Wisconsin. In 2003 he was deployed to Iraq.  Upon his return, depression, insomnia, nightmares and ultimately a suicide attempt had him diagnosed with Post traumatic stress disorder.

An insidious disease where Jason describes that “every life stress becomes a trigger, your low on gas on the way to the store and before you know it you’re in Iraq, you will die if you don’t have enough gas to get somewhere and the trigger goes off on the way to the grocery store.”

Determined to overcome this disease and to “slowly chip away the traumas of war” Jason began to find his voice again and that voice came through his music (Album entitled Trying to Find My Way Home) about his experience and ultimately his non-profit, Warrior Songs.Org.

In 2011, Jason realized that by telling his story through music he could not only help himself but that his music healed and connected other veterans as well. So he founded the non-profit, Warrior Songs.Org, with the goal to bring music to veterans in various stages of recovery. He has taken his pain and used it as fuel to heal thousands of soldiers.

Jason told me,” I find my joy connecting with other veterans to make a difference.” I asked him if he now saw a purpose in all of his suffering and his answer,” I will die doing this, this is my purpose, this disease is knowing my truth and is my something to believe in.”

Today when you see an American flag think of our veterans and all of those who give so we can celebrate. Happy 4th Of July.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2012 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.


Hugs for Heroes

Since we celebrated our heroes this week and had a holiday in their honor I thought it only fitting that we celebrate those heroes that support our troops. The story of this 16-year-old girl will tell you that there are heroes all around us silently impacting thousands of lives for the better.

In 2004, at 16, Mireille Manzone’s life was about to change when she attended a presentation by Scott Rutter, a retired Lt. Col. in the US Army, about his experience in Iraq. As she listened to stories of bravery and hardship, what touched her was the story of Mail day.  Lt. Col. Rutter spoke of the loneliest day of the week for his soldiers, many of whom were barely older than the audience. He said that some soldiers might receive an occasional letter but sadly, many never received anything.

Hearing this broke Mireille’s heart and she knew she had to do something. Mireille was determined to find a way to show our troops that they were not being forgotten and that people back home appreciated their service and sacrifice.

So Mireille rallied her troops…..local schools, churches and Veterans’ organizations and before long the first 200 lb shipment of baked goods and letters was on its way to Iraq. The good word spread and before long the group now entitled Hugs for Heroes was born.

Two years later, when Mireille became student at Boston College,  Hugs for Heroes became an offical non-profit and an integral part of campus life. Once again, she reached out to the BC fellow students and staff members to help take up collections on campus, pack and mail even more shipments.

Today, Hugs for Heroes, Inc. is still serving our troops and has shipped nearly 10 tons of care packages to the men and women serving overseas since 2004.  Mireille is a hero for inspiring thousands to make a difference and bring hugs to our troops.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2012 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.