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Operation Gratitude

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Celebrating our Veterans and Wellness works

Over the years I have interviewed and profiled a number of amazing organizations that serve our troops and veterans, Hugs for Heroes, Operation Gratitude, Veterans Career Exchange, and the list goes on. All fantastic organizations that have served our men and women abroad or helped returning Veterans get jobs once they were out of the military. However in all my interviews, I have yet to meet an organization that’s main focus is  to restore hope and a sense of wholeness of body and soul turning their post traumatic stress into post traumatic growth, until now. The place is Wellness Works, a home for healing  and hope.

Last week, I sat down with the Co-Founder, Mary Lu Coughlin, of the non-profit Wellness Works to learn more about the journey our Veterans go through and the story of this amazing non-profit that continues healing our Veterans. Today we celebrate Veterans Day and all those who gave so bravely for our freedom. It is the perfect time to share about the remarkable work that is being done to support the Veteran community and their families. This video (that sadly isn’t embedding but you can old school click the link) gives you a deeper dive into Wellness Works impact on Veterans.

 

Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to start Wellness Works?

Mary Lu Coughlin: Beginning in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, my Co-Founder Nancy was teaching wellness education workshops and holistic healing therapies to nurses mainly to help healing with the large AIDS/HIV population at the time. Our goal was always to he a source of healing and service to the community.  As medications became available for AIDS patients our client focus began to shift, September 11th happened, the war began and then in 2005  when we read Dr. Ed Tick’s book War and The Soul about healing Veterans from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD. We knew that we had a healing skills that could help our Veterans and their families.

Soldiers began coming home in 2006 and we knew our healing community needed to support and love these Veterans and give them a place that felt like home. 

Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work in serving our Veterans?

Mary Lu Coughlin: Twenty-two veterans a day take their own lives. I know that when we (Wellness Works) have a tangible felt experience and love can come thru us to our Veterans that we are an instrument of healing.

Charity Matters: When do you know that you have made a difference?

Mary Lu Coughlin: When veterans come through our door they feel welcome, they feel at home, they know their invisible wounds are seen and they are not judged. When I over hear one veteran telling another,” I am finally home thanks to Wellness Works.” 

Another veteran, who now serves on our board, said on his second visit to Wellness Works that, “his life’s purpose had been restored. He now had a community with which he could once again strive to serve the greater good.”

Charity Matters:What do want people to think about this Veteran’s Day?

Mary Lou Coughlin: This Veterans Day gives us as a caring community and society, the opportunity to acknowledge the service of the many men and women who have served us so well.

Charity Matters.

 

 

Sharing is caring, if you are so moved or inspired, we would love you to pass the torch/post and inspire another.

Copyright © 2017 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.

Memorial Day 2017

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life for something bigger than oneself.”

Joseph Campbell

Over the years I have interviewed a handful of veterans who started non-profits; Eve Chase of American Women’s Veterans, Mark Brenner of Veterans Career Xchange to name a few.  I have also interviewed so many more who started incredible organizations to serve those who serve us….Carolyn Blashek of Operation Gratitude, Rob Berquist of Cell Phones for Soldiers and the list goes on…each person more inspiring than the next.

The common thread between all of these extraordinary individuals? Gratitude. Each one is grateful to have either survived their journey and inspired to help their fellow veterans. Or they are like you and I, ordinary Americans, filled with gratitude for the country we are blessed to live in and the freedoms which we have. They have used that gratitude to fuel their work to serve and honor our veterans.

So today, I will take a page from Carolyn and Rob’s book of gratitude, as I reflect on those who sacraficed to serve us. I am filled with gratitude for these heroes who gave their lives for something bigger than themselves…..

our freedom.

Wishing you all a day full of gratitude.

Happy Memorial Day.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2017 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.

That indescribable feeling

Service to a just cause rewards the worker with more real happiness and satisfaction than any other venture of life.”

Carrie Chapman Catt

OGrat letters

I had lunch with a girlfriend last week and we were discussing our mutual addiction to that indescribable feeling you get when you give. I had just come from Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends care packages to our soldiers around the world. I had dropped off 1800 cards, on my way to lunch, written by student’s in my leadership organization, that would go in care packages for soldiers.

The feeling I had as I handed the boxes and boxes of heartfelt colored cards and notes was of pride, joy and as the quote says, “more happiness and satisfaction than any other venture of life.” As my friend and I discussed, it is that feeling that becomes something you simply want more of. The gift of service is a gift you give to yourself, even if that isn’t the intention…..it is always the result.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2015 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.

Homecoming Thank You

Homecoming thank you

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July, truly one of my favorite holidays. Since most of us are still in a patriotic mood I thought I would follow-up on a post I shared a few weeks back.

Last week we had Operation Gratitude come and speak at our leadership camp and tell the students just how important the two words, “thank you” really are. Our students wrote thank you letters to the troops, that brought tears to my eyes.

When I saw the video below, another example of saying thank you in a very big way, I simply had to share.

Just another reminder of the power of gratitude and saying thank you.  A great way to start our week and remember that we all hold the power to make the world better…..simply by saying thank you.

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.

Charity Matters Quotes

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”  

Abraham Lincoln

abraham-lincoln--american-flag-international-images

In light of the Boston Marathon on monday and my talk with Carolyn Blashek from Operation Gratitude, on Wednesday, I couldn’t help feel patriotic this week. Proud of my country, all of Boston and always our American soldiers. Gratitude and pride are a great way to begin the weekend.

So remember to say thank you to our military and to make your country proud of you for all you do to make our world better. We are better because you are in it.

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.